Safety concerns shift role of RCMP auxiliary constables

NANAIMO – Directive from RCMP brass pushes auxiliary constables out of harm's way following 2014 shootings in Ottawa and Alberta.

Nanaimo RCMP’s 15 auxiliary constables and their counterparts across the country have been stood down from what were traditional service roles as volunteers with the RCMP.

The action follows a review of the auxiliary program that began in 2014 after an Canadian Armed Forces member was gunned down in downtown Ottawa and an auxiliary constable and a Mountie were shot in a casino in St. Albert, Alta.

The review sparked an initial directive, sent to all RCMP divisions in 2014, to be vigilant when in public, especially when in uniform, and a requirement that auxiliary constables working in uniform be under direct supervision of armed regular members at all times.

In January, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Janice Armstrong issued a memo with further recommendations from the review that impact the service roles roughly 1,600 RCMP auxiliary constables in the program, which has operated since 1963.

Effective Jan. 11, the day Armstrong issued the memo, ride-alongs and firearms familiarization training was discontinued. Recommendations also included the creation of “a National Activity Matrix” describing the role of auxiliary constables, development of a national training standard, a national policy update and a review of uniform options.

“Auxiliary constables will continue to perform crime prevention, community engagement and other duties, which in communities such as Nanaimo, they are our greatest asset,” Cpl. Janelle Shoihet, RCMP E Division spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin. “There is consideration being given to changing the current auxiliary uniform as we recognize, while on duty they are identified as police officers, which puts them at risk of harm.”

Nanaimo RCMP detachment referred all media inquiries to RCMP E Division headquarters in Vancouver.

Nanaimo News Bulletin