RCMP incident commander says radio service a challenge during N.S. mass shooting

HALIFAX – A retired RCMP officer who led much of the response to the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia testified today that spotty radio service posed challenges as Mounties chased a murderous suspect.

Twenty-two people were murdered over 13 hours on April 18-19, 2020, by a gunman driving a replica police car.

Jeff West was the critical incident commander based in a firehall west of Truro, N.S., from 1:19 a.m. until 10:20 a.m. on April 19, while Kevin Surette, a retired staff sergeant who also is testifying, was supporting West.

West, who required over two hours to arrive at the scene from Halifax, said that when he took over command he couldn’t broadcast over the police network from his portable radio for four minutes, until he stood next to a window.

He says it’s “problematic” that the portable radios lacked the power to allow a critical incident commander to announce his presence.

Surette says that poor radio service in crisis situations “when things are overloaded” has been his experience throughout his decades-long career responding to major incidents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.

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