Changes coming for RCMP auxiliaries

The city is investigating the effects of sweeping changes being imposed on RCMP auxiliaries that one councillor said will result in “severe cutbacks” to their duties.

Coun. Larry Samson said at the March 7 council meeting that he was concerned to hear in the media about proposed changes that will reduce the role auxiliaries play in fighting crime.

“We’re hearing about significant changes to our auxiliary program where they’re going to be severely cut back in the duties that they’re allowed to perform to such that we will no longer see them on roadways doing traffic checks, we will no longer be seeing them be able to do crowd control at some of our events, they’ll no longer be able to do ride-alongs,” Samson said.

RCMP auxiliaries are unarmed, unpaid RCMP who assist RCMP Regular Members (RM) with some of their general duties. Under the supervision of an RM, auxiliary constables participate in RCMP support community events and programs, crime prevention programs in schools, traffic control, ground patrols, search and rescue, parades and other ceremonial events.

But a January memo from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Janice Armstrong, circulated to the 1,600 auxiliaries who serve across the country, said changes are coming that include putting an end to ride-alongs and firearms familiarization training.

Cpl. Janelle Shoihet, media relations officer with the RCMP’s E Division, said the proposed changes are the result of a review of auxiliary constables prompted by the Oct. 22, 2014 shooting of unarmed Canadian Forces member Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in front of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and Const. David Wynn in St. Albert, Alta., in 2015 while investigating a disturbance outside of a casino. Auxiliary Const. Derek Bond was also shot in the casino incident but survived after suffering non-life threatening injuries.

“All Regular Members (RMs) and staff were warned to be vigilant when in public, especially those in uniform, and a directive was issued requiring that auxiliary constables working in uniform be under the direct supervision of an RM equipped with all intervention tools,” Shoihet told the Mirror. “The focus of this directive was on the safety of our volunteers.”

Shoihet said auxiliaries were never intended to supplement the work of RMs, rather the duties they perform are meant to be complimentary work such as community engagement.

“In communities such as Campbell River, auxiliary constables will continue to perform the duties where they have the greatest impact, that is in community policing, crime prevention and community engagement,” Shoihet said.

She added that going forward, auxiliaries will need to be either accompanied by a Regular Member with all intervention tools or not be in operational uniform.

The RCMP is further considering ordering all auxiliaries to wear a uniform to distinguish them from regular RCMP members.

On March 7, Samson wanted to know how exactly the changes will affect the city and, with approval from council, directed city staff to reach out to local RCMP Inspector Jeff Preston and the city’s RCMP municipal manager for more information.