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

Conflict expert explains how to talk to people who aren’t social distancing

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

COVID-19: Managing your mental health from isolation

Ministry of Mental Health, Addictions recommends numerous strategies for self-care during pandemic

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

Sunday morning fire damages Victoria gas station

The fire on Fairfield Road caused $75,000 in estimated damages to tires and automotive equipment

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read