The Halifax Regional Police chief is scheduled to face questions today at the public inquiry into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting.
It’s expected that Dan Kinsella will be asked about his force’s working relationship with the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police’s role in responding to the two-day rampage that ended on April 19, 2020, and resulted in 22 deaths.
Co-ordination between RCMP and municipal police forces during the mass shooting has been a point of contention during the inquiry.
Both the Halifax and Truro police forces were involved in the RCMP-led response to the mass killing.
In September 2021, a “wellness report” commissioned by the RCMP and completed by an Ottawa-based consultant group, noted that RCMP staff said there was an ongoing “turf battle” over operational control and funding between the Halifax Regional Police and the Nova Scotia RCMP.
A redacted version of this report released by the inquiry said staff reported that there were “major dysfunctions” at the Nova Scotia RCMP before the mass shooting.
It said that several participants interviewed reported that RCMP members were doing their best to partner with the Halifax police, but “the leadership of (Halifax Regional Police) was doing everything it could to undermine and break the relationship with the RCMP in order to access more resources from (Halifax Regional Municipality) and the province,” reads the report.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki testified on Tuesday at the inquiry that she wasn’t aware for several months that the wellness report had been completed, adding that she first saw the report in June of this year.
In his June testimony before the inquiry, Truro police Chief David MacNeil said that the Nova Scotia RCMP didn’t ask him to send extra help during the mass shooting, though his officers were trained in responding to active shooters and were among the closest to the rampage.
He said if his force had been asked, he would “definitely” have called in officers as needed. MacNeil said they had carbines in their cars and were trained to use them.
On Monday, Lee Bergerman, the retired commanding RCMP officer for the province, was asked at the inquiry if organizational issues between the RCMP and municipal police affected the police response to the mass shooting. She said no.
But in the aftermath of the tragedy, “it was apparent that it became popular to distance yourself from the RCMP because we’re receiving a lot of criticism publicly,” Bergerman said.
“There were times where there was an opportunity for certain (police) chiefs to publicly say negative things. That was the start of it,” she said.
Bergerman added that she believes the RCMP’s push to establish provincewide policing standards “has caused a rift between the RCMP, the Department of Justice and municipal policing agencies.”
‘Negative’ media following Nova Scotia mass shooting impacted RCMP morale: Lucki
When asked why that would cause tension, Bergerman said, “you would have to ask a municipal police chief why that might cause problems.” She added that provincial police standards would likely require municipalities to have specialized police units, which could be “cost-prohibitive.”
Kinsella is scheduled to appear as a witness before the inquiry today at 2 p.m.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2022.
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