Nova Scotia: the RCMP to conduct a full review of the system of alerts

Nouvelle-Écosse: la GRC procède à un examen complet du système des alertes

Nouvelle-Écosse: la GRC procède à un examen complet du système des alertes

According to the RCMP, there are no guidelines pan-canadian about the time to use the canadian system of public warning, to send information to cell phones and tv screens.

May 3, 2020 17h08

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Nova Scotia: the RCMP to conduct a full review of the system of alerts

Adina Bresge

The canadian Press

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If the detachment nova scotia RCMP faced virulent criticism for not having launched emergency alert during the killing spree of mass of the last month, the national manual of the RCMP does not dictate that such an alert should be sent.

According to the RCMP, there are no guidelines pan-canadian about the time to use the canadian system of public warning, to send information to cell phones and tv screens.

Following the murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia, on 18 and 19 April, the police force is considering to put in place a national policy for the use of the emergency alert system.

Delicate balance

to experts say, however, that the authorities must strike a delicate balance between informing the public of potential threats and avoid unnecessary panic.

As shown in the tragedy of Nova Scotia, it is not obvious slice, in the heart of a crisis when lives are at stake.

The study of shootings in 2014, in Moncton, and on Parliament Hill have revealed that Twitter has been essential to disseminate information in real time to the public and to the media.

The RCMP in Nova Scotia has used Twitter to send updates when a complaint related to firearms has given rise to a series of gunshots and arson in the central and northern areas of the province.

The police officers were questioned about the reasons for which they focused their attention on social media, however they would have been able to send an alert to all phones in the province.

Some relatives of victims have asked that the issue be part of a public inquiry on the killings.

The prime minister of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil, said that the leaders of the emergencies were ready to launch an alert, but that they could not act as the RCMP had not provided information.

The RCMP explained that a message was being composed when the shooter was shot by police at Enfield, after a man-hunt for 13 hours.

“Full review”

The superintendent of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, Darren Campbell, said that the force was conducting a “comprehensive review” of the use of the emergency alert system, in consultation with the province and the canadian Association of chiefs of police.

The national spokesperson for the RCMP, Robin Percival, said that it was planning to create a political pan-canadian, but that the protocols to alert the public are generally established by the provincial authorities of emergency management.

The emergency management Office of Nova Scotia did not immediately respond to a request for details on its protocols.

For the authorities, it may seem wise to err on the side of caution.

Terry Flynn, professor of communications at McMaster University, puts a note of caution : flood people’s notifications can do that they tire, or that some people ignore the warnings when a threat is real.

Mr. Flynn, who specializes in the study of crisis management, said that this strategy has perhaps contributed to a false alarm last month, Nova Scotia.

A few days after the massacre, the province issued an emergency alert referring to a possible shooting in the Halifax area. This was ultimately nothing or, in one case, the noise of construction.

In the case of Gabriel Wortman, the police made up with a killer sowing chaos and carnage on 16 crime scenes, being disguised as an RCMP officer and driving in a fake patrol car, recalled Jack Rozdilsky, professor of disaster management and emergency at York University.

A provincial alert could have overloaded the 911 comments wrong when the police stalked the murderer, said Mr. Rozdilsky.

That said, the bereaved families have the right to ask questions and they need answers, he said.

Tom Stamatakis, president of the canadian police Association, supports the effort, which aims to establish a national protocol to alert the public.

He adds, though, that no manual can fully prepare police to respond to a rapidly evolving crisis, such as a mass shooting.

“It evaluates the information as they arrive, he said. It is much too hard to find a formula that really normative that they should follow.”

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