RCMP officers dressed in formal red serge were often unarmed. That has changed in the wake of the Oct. 22 shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on Parliament Hill.

RCMP tightens volunteer security after Ottawa attack

Auxilliary protection stepped up, police officers in red serge will now always be armed due to RCMP policy change

Last month’s attacks on Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Montreal have prompted the RCMP to arm officers who appear in public in red serge and to take extra steps to protect auxiliary constables who volunteer unarmed in the community.

The new requirement for direct supervision is expected to mean more armed regular RCMP officers accompanying unarmed auxiliaries at major public events than did in the past, according to Assistant Commissioner Dan Malo, the Lower Mainland District Commander for the RCMP.

“Our reality changed after the events of Ottawa,” Malo said, referring to the Oct. 22 killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he guarded the National War Memorial on Parliament Hill.

He predicted the main impact will be on police staffing of major summer festivals.

“It’s a shift in our cultural thinking on how we deploy police officers or anybody that is identifiable with law enforcement.”

Operational decisions on exactly how those events are staffed will be up to the local commander based on their assessment of potential threats and other factors.

Malo was not able to say whether the changes will increase costs to cities or decrease the number of offices on duty to respond to other calls, but added policing costs will likely rise for some festivals.

That prospect has alarmed Coquitlam city council, which voted to write to RCMP national headquarters to protest the change.

The letter warns the new policy directive threatens cost-effective policing and will impact a broad range of community programs in schools and parks that are staffed by Coquitlam’s 49 auxiliaries.

“Such a change will also have a significant financial impact if sworn officers are required to provide direct supervision of all activities performed by our auxiliary constables,” the letter states. “Our existing complement of regular members will no longer be freed up to attend to other scheduled duties.”

More than 1,100 auxiliaries assist with policing across B.C. and Malo said it’s appropriate to be more careful than in the past, depending on the circumstances.

“I consider them community heroes,” Malo said. “They’re volunteers who volunteer hundreds if not thousands of hours to wear an RCMP uniform and serve their community. We have to make sure these local heroes are protected.”

RCMP officers appearing in the community in red serge often were not armed in the past.

That has changed and those officers will now carry firearms, including at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“At things like funerals it’s very traditional we were not armed,” Malo said. “Now you will see when we are identifiable we are always armed.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Avoid giving dogs ice cubes, says Greater Victoria vet

Tips for keeping dogs cool and safe this summer

Hungry Hearts Gala goes virtual with new mac and cheese competition

Results will be announced on Facebook live stream event

GVPL staggers reopening of three more branches in Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria

More Greater Victoria Library branches to reopen in August

Gaps in the system: Youth cope with homelessness in Greater Victoria

Four-part series will look at youth homelessness in the region

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Most Read