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RCMP incident commander says radio service was a challenge in Nova Scotia 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 the RCMP pursued a suspect murderer.

Twenty-two people were murdered in 1 p.m. on April 18 and 19, 2020 by a gunman driving a replica police car.

Jeff West was the critical incident commander based at a fire station west of Truro, Nova Scotia, from 1:19 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. April 19, while Kevin Surette, a staff sergeant retired who is also testifying, West argued.

West, who took more than two hours to arrive at the scene from Halifax, said when he took command he could not broadcast to the police network from his portable radio for four minutes, until that he stands next to a window.

He says it is “problematic” that portable radios do not have the power to allow a critical incident commander to announce his presence.

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

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

The Canadian Press