RCMP commissioner admits to not reading any part of Mass Casualty Commission final report


TRURO - In front of numerous media organizations, the head of the RCMP admitted he hadn't read a single portion of the Mass Casualty Commission's final report.

Interim commissioner Mike Duheme, who oversees the national police organization, and Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley both admitted to not having read the report during a media availability that began at 3 p.m. Thursday, three hours after the commission's public proceedings to release the report.

Duheme, when reporters questioned him about the 75 recommendations the commissioners made surrounding policing, said he hadn't read the almost 3,000-page report since it had just been released hours prior.

Brett Ruskin, a CBC reporter, confirmed with Mass Casualty Commission staff the RCMP was a participating organization, and those participants had access to the full report at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

"I don't know what time we received it," said Duheme, saying he spent the day prior to the release meeting with officers who responded to the April 18-19, 2020, tragedy that saw a perpetrator kill 22 people over a 13-hour span. One of those victims, Kristen Beaton, was expecting her second child. Duheme said he also spent time travelling to the sites of the tragedy.

"I haven't gone through the recommendations just yet. It doesn't minimize the impact of what took place. I just haven't had time to go through the recommendations."

One of the commissioner's recommendations is phasing out the RCMP training depot in Saskatchewan by 2032. The report calls for a three-year policing program across the province.

When asked what that depot closure could mean for the organization, Duheme said the organization would have to study the impact.

"I think we have to have a deeper dive into what the commissioners meant by that," said Duheme.

He said in his opening remarks a team has been put into place to study the final report and identify what recommendations are within the organization's purview.

He said the April 2020 mass casualty was one never seen before in Canada.

"The number of crime scenes, the fact we were looking for someone dressed like us, it's never been seen," he said. "We have to learn from this and we must learn to get better for the next one."

The final report was critical of the RCMP officers' actions during the tragedy and in the months following. During the commission's proceedings leading up to the report, Chief Supt. Darren Campbell apologized for failing the public.

Duheme wouldn't apologize for the officers' mistakes or mishandlings, again saying he hadn't read the commissioners' recommendations. He said responding officers did the best they could with their training and available equipment.

"We weren't able to keep that community safe, and for that I am sorry," he said.

Daley said the RCMP is currently going through two other policing reviews, and he welcomes the commissioners' recommendation for a comprehensive external review.

"I'm in favour of any sort of review," he said.

Daley, who is the commanding officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, said the organization has already acted on improvements ahead of the report's release.

"We have to look back so we can look forward," he said, adding they have learned significantly, especially when it comes to emergency alerts.

The RCMP not using the Alert Ready system is one of the criticisms many have had regarding the response. Daley says the RCMP have used it 18 times since the mass casualty.

Mapping software has also since been updated, as has equipment, and the organization opened a new operational command centre in the province.

"What our members faced, there's no blueprint for," he said.

Both men said they and the rest of the RCMP are committed to change, with Daley saying the goal is "making communities safer."

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