An RCMP officer wears a body camera at the detachment in Bible Hill, N.S. on Sunday, April 18, 2021. The RCMP will start field-testing body-worn cameras on its officers in three areas of the country in the coming days. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
By David Fraser in Ottawa
The RCMP says it expects officers in three parts of the country to start field-testing body-worn cameras in the coming days.
Members of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Alberta will have audio and video from the cameras captured and uploaded onto a digital evidence management system.
The RCMP says up to 300 cameras will be rolled out in those locations.
The field tests will be used to help inform the broader use of body cameras in RCMP attachments across the country.
That national rollout is not expected for another 18 months, but the RCMP says that when it happens, the standard will be for Mounties to wear the cameras when they are working on the front lines.
Police say the cameras can help increase trust between law enforcement and communities, because the footage that is captured provides an authentic lens on interactions between officers and the public.
Earlier this year, the Alberta government announced that body-worn cameras would become mandatory for all officers working in the province.
The RCMP announced an operational policy for the cameras last October, and estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 cameras will be deployed across the country.
RCMP interim Commissioner Mike Duheme said in a statement Canadians are rightfully demanding more accountability from the RCMP and the force is taking steps to enhance trust.
“The rollout of body-worn cameras to RCMP officers is one more step towards building a more modern and accountable RCMP,” he said.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement that transparency and accountability are essential to maintaining trust in law enforcement.
He said the RCMP’s decision “will help it foster trust with the communities it serves.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2023.
Man charged with first degree murder in shooting death of B.C. RCMP officer
A 25-year-old Coquitlam, B.C., man has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of RCMP officer Rick O’Brien.
Police allege Nicholas Bellemare fatally shot the Ridge Meadows RCMP constable on Friday in Coquitlam during a drug investigation originating in Maple Ridge, B.C.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows RCMP detachments issued a joint statement saying Mounties were executing a warrant when an altercation began between Bellemare and police at around 10 a.m.
Police said O’Brien and another officer were shot during the altercation and a third officer also sustained unspecified injuries.
O’Brien died at the scene, while the two other wounded officers were treated at hospital and have since been released.
“This is a profound loss and I understand it will have a lasting effect on Const. O’Brien’s family, friends, colleagues and the community,” said Mandeep Mooker, officer in charge of the integrated homicide team, in a written statement.
Bellemare, who police say was also shot and wounded in the altercation, has been charged with one count each of first-degree murder and attempted murder with a firearm.
O’Brien’s death in Coquitlam comes less than a year after another RCMP officer, Const. Shaelyn Yang, was stabbed to death while accompanying a city worker to a campsite used by homeless residents in a Burnaby, B.C.
The latest tragedy has reverberated with law enforcement officials across the country.
Kevin Halwa, chair of the National Police Federation’s Benevolent Foundation, has said calling the mood in the law enforcement community sombre “would be an understatement.”
Halwa said the tragedy was a powerful reminder of the risks police officers take on in their daily work once they “step up to serve.”
Condolences from a number of law enforcement officials and agencies have poured in on social media, including federal Justice Minister Arif Virani, the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police and Alberta Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis.
A GoFundMe campaign for O’Brien’s family has raised more than $55,000 since launch, surpassing its original goal of raising $50,000.
Halwa said the funds cannot come close to replacing O’Brien’s loss, but the Benevolent Foundation is hoping to take on as much of the financial pressures facing the family in the wake of his death.
“If we can take even just an ounce of pressure off of that family and Rick’s loved ones, then that’s why we’re here,” Halwa said.
O’Brien, who had a wife and children, worked with at-risk youth before joining the RCMP and spent his entire policing career at the Ridge Meadows detachment.
He was decorated for bravery in the rescue of victims during a home invasion within months of joining the RCMP in 2016.
Halwa said he hopes the tragedy reminds the public of the individuals behind the badge.
“You know, they are the mothers and fathers, the soccer coaches, and they’re doing their damn best to do what they can to make the world better,” he said. “Their hearts are all in the right place to make the world better.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2023.
RCMP ‘gutted’ by death of Const. Rick O’Brien, 51, shot in B.C.: deputy commissioner
RCMP Const. Rick O’Brien poses in this undated RCMP handout photo. The 51-year-old officer was shot and killed and two other officers were injured while executing a search warrant in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, while a suspect was shot and is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
By Nono Shen in Coquitlam
The death of another Mountie in British Columbia less than a year after the last killing “enrages” the lead officer in the province.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said Const. Rick O’Brien, 51, was shot dead and two other officers were injured on Friday as they tried to execute a search warrant in Coquitlam, B.C.
A suspect in his 20s was also shot and is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
O’Brien, who had a wife and children, was decorated for bravery in the rescue of victims during a home invasion within months of joining the RCMP in 2016.
“This is an extremely difficult and tragic day for our members,” McDonald said Friday. “Const. O’Brien led by example. He had a great sense of humour. He was well respected by his peers and he was loved in his community.”
He said O’Brien was part of a team from Ridge Meadows RCMP that had been serving a search warrant at a home in the neighbouring community of Coquitlam.
McDonald said O’Brien died at the scene. One injured officer is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, he said, while the other suffered minor injuries and was discharged.
While McDonald didn’t reveal details about the investigation, he said it was a long-term probe.
A procession of RCMP vehicles led an ambulance carrying O’Brien’s body from Coquitlam to Abbotsford later Friday.
O’Brien’s death comes just 11 months after the death of RCMP Const. Shaelyn Yang, who was stabbed to death while accompanying a Burnaby, B.C., city worker to a homeless campsite.
McDonald said the past year had been a tragic one for police departments across Canada.
“It hurts. It really hurts. I’m outraged,” he said. “To see police officers across this country killed trying to protect their communities enrages me.”
Policing was a second career for O’Brien, who worked with at-risk youth before joining the RCMP. His entire career was spent at the Ridge Meadows detachment.
Supt. Wendy Mehat, the officer in charge of Ridge Meadows, said speaking about the impact of O’Brien’s death was the most difficult moment of her career.
“Rick’s contribution to his work, and his fellow team members at this detachment was immeasurable. Rick loved visiting schools and helping students, doing presentations, supporting our detachment (with) food drives and sport events,” she said.
“He was truly exceptional, a hard worker and a good human being. His death is senseless and heartbreaking.” Mehat said.
McDonald said O’Brien’s death seemed to speak to an issue he and his colleagues across the country have been talking about.
“Perhaps painting police in a certain light … sometimes seems to encourage people to resist authority and disrespect the profession of policing and, quite honestly, fight the police,” he said.
“I’m not commenting on this particular instance. But I will say that this is a stark reminder that the police are here to help you.”
The Independent Investigations Office said in a statement that the officers went to a home in the Metro Vancouver city on Friday.
“While there, the attending officers became engaged in an altercation with a man which resulted in multiple officers being injured and the man being shot,” the statement said.
“Emergency Health Services transported all injured to hospital, but one of the officers who was shot succumbed to their injuries.”
Carley Hodges, a witness in the busy area of city, described a chaotic scene, with an officer receiving CPR as he was put in an ambulance, another officer with a wound on his leg and a tourniquet above it, and a man in handcuffs.
Hodges said there were “tons of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks coming in.”
Mehat said O’Brien’s death was “senseless and heartbreaking.”
“He simply went to work today, and he was killed, doing his duty and keeping his community safe. The hours, weeks and months ahead will be difficult to our communities and Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam and across the country.”
B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said he was shocked and saddened to learn of O’Brien’s death.
“All three officers are shining examples of the extraordinary individuals who chose to take on the challenging mantle of protecting the public.
“I have spoken to the local mayors, and we all agree that the death of an officer is a stark reminder of the dangers police face to keep us safe. They put their lives on the line every day to fulfil their oath to protect our communities.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent his condolences to O’Brien’s family, friends and colleagues on social media.
“And to the officers who were injured: I’m wishing you a fast and full recovery.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
This is a corrected story. A previous version said police were trying to serve an arrest warrant.
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