The RCMP has sent in outside reinforcements to allow its entire staff in Moncton to take a two-week break to regain its composure after last week’s tragic shootings, officials said.
The rotation will allow about 200 people in the Codiac detachment – 141 officers plus support staff – to take a “stand down” period, according to RCMP officers and their families.
Outside the regimental service for the trio of fallen Mounties on Tuesday, a Codiac RCMP officer, who asked that his name be withheld, expressed gratitude for his colleagues’ willingness to assist in coming weeks.
“We just went through a traumatic experience,” he said, noting the fragile psychological condition of officers after the shootings. “We can’t just jump back on the street – people might have some sort of reaction.”
In a statement to The Globe and Mail, RCMP Superintendent Marlene Snowman, the officer in charge of Codiac Regional RCMP, said her staff “have been relieved by RCMP members from other detachments for two weeks for mental health reasons.”
Serge St. Pierre, an officer in another detachment in New Brunswick, said he’s already received word he’ll be subbing in for three day-shifts, beginning June 17. He said his understanding is that officers who were directly involved in responding to the shootings and ensuing manhunt are free to take longer than two weeks before returning to the line of duty.
“I’d like to do anything I can for the boys and girls over here – whatever I can do to give them relief,” he said.
Another officer from Nova Scotia said she expects to be part of the relief effort, adding that out-of-town officers are expected to stay in hotels, university dorms and with locals as billets. She said it’s part of her job to be there for her colleagues.
“People are coming from all over the place to pick up the slack,” she said. “We want to give our members in Codiac a bit of a break and some time to heal, as much as they can.”
As with the Canadian military, the RCMP strived in recent years to improve its mental-health services to its members, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Mounties based in Moncton will be encouraged to obtain any professional help necessary to surmount the challenges they are facing before they return to work.
According to a new policy unveiled last year, the RCMP is prepared to adjust the “operational responsibilities” of its members to deal with any limitations and restrictions, while supporting their treatment.
There are 1,200 RCMP officials in New Brunswick as a whole. Three RCMP officers were fatally wounded and two others injured on Wednesday while responding to calls about a man carrying high-powered weapons while walking the streets of a residential Moncton neighbourhood.
After a 30-hour manhunt, Justin Bourque, 24, was arrested early Friday morning. He faces three charges of first-degree murder and two charges of attempted murder.
The RCMP has been front-and-centre in the response to the tragedy, with Mounties taking care of the dead and wounded after the shootings. When the ambulances were allowed close to the crime scene, the wounded had already been taken to hospital.
“On the evening of June 4, five paramedic crews and EMS leadership responded to the scene and were directed to a nearby staging area to await RCMP direction,” Ambulance New Brunswick spokeswoman Tracy Bell said. “Ambulance New Brunswick did not transport any patients to hospital in response to this incident.”
The Mounties are still pursuing the investigation into Mr. Bourque. Officers from other detachments in provinces such as Nova Scotia have already descended on Moncton, taking part in the extensive door-knocking that lies ahead as the force continues to gather clues into the shooting.
In 2013, the RCMP said that 2,200 of its current and retired members suffered from PTSD.