Police Practice in Other Jurisdictions
The Tribunal has had the benefit of expert reports and oral testimony from eight senior police officers (serving or retired) from other jurisdictions, all of whom have had particular experience and expertise in the area of siege situations, i.e., Mr. Alan Bailey, Dr. Ian McKenzie, Sergeant David Lee and Mr. Michael Burdis (UK); Mr. Frederick Lanceley (US — FBI); Mr. Ray Shuey (Victoria, Australia); Mr. Robert Leatherdale (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and Superintendent Neville Matthews (New Zealand). Messrs Bailey, Burdis, McKenzie and Lanceley have commented on particular problems encountered by the Garda at Abbeylara and relevant practice in their own jurisdictions. Their opinions are already stated elsewhere in the report (see, in particular, Chapters 5 and 6) and it is not intended to reiterate them here. Sergeant Lee gave evidence regarding the use of police dogs as a less lethal option at firearms incidents and how such dogs would be utilised in the UK in an Abbeylara type situation; his comments are incorporated in Chapter 11.
Messrs Shuey, Matthews and Leatherdale have based their evidence on how an Abbeylara type situation would be dealt with in their respective jurisdictions and they have also commented on other related matters. Their testimony is referred to hereunder in sections dealing with police practice in Victoria, New Zealand and Canada respectively.
SECTION A: — Victoria
1. Mr. Ray Shuey
Mr. Shuey retired from the Victoria police force in July, 2003 after 41 years service. He held the position of assistant commissioner for the last 14 years of his service. During that time he also performed the role of acting deputy commissioner in operation, policy and standards for a cumulative period of two years.
Mr. Shuey holds a Batchelor of Arts (police studies) and a diploma in criminology and police studies. He is a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and the Australian Institute of Police Management. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the International Police Association and the Australian Police Education Standards Council. He is also a member of the Australian Sporting Shooters Association. He is currently a director of his own company ‘‘Strategic Safety Solutions Property Limited’’.
As Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Shuey had overall responsibility for the Special Operations Group (the Victoria equivalent of the Emergency Response Unit) and acted as operations commander for numerous siege/barricaded persons incidents. He had direct responsibility for the establishment of a specialist training facility and initiated the establishment of an operational safety training and tactics facility at the police academy.
In September, 1994, Mr. Shuey was appointed to lead Project Beacon (discussed below) and to coordinate the Victoria police response to critical incidents. In 1996 he was awarded the Australian Police medal for distinguished police service. He also has been awarded, at national and state level, medals for diligent and ethical service. In 1996 he undertook an eight week overseas study tour examining best practice in ten police organizations including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, The London Metropolitan Police and Scotland. He has also been conferred as ‘‘senior adviser’’ to the Liaoning Institute of Public Security and Judicature Management Cadre during an official visit to China in 1998. In 2002, in conjunction with Superintendent Peter Marshall of the New Zealand Police, he undertook a review of the New Zealand police operational safety and tactics training and provided advice in respect of operational best practice.
Mr. Shuey played an extensive role in furthering the understanding between police forces and persons with mental illness. He was the police representative on the National Mental Health Crisis Intervention Ad Hoc Advisory Group and the Interdepartmental Liaison Committee. He has also played an important role in the promotion of Crisis Assessment Treatment Teams (discussed below). He told the Tribunal that ‘‘liaison is seen to be critical with psychiatric services and the understanding of psychology involved in dealing with the mentally ill’’.
Mr. Shuey has undertaken extensive research in relation to less lethal options and was responsible for the introduction of Capsicum spray and the extendable baton to the Victoria police force. He identifies himself as a strong proponent for the use of the Air Taser by police forces. He described his professional aim as being ‘‘to achieve the best possible equipment, facilities and training for operational members, so they have the confidence and competence to deal with critical incidents and the dynamics under which they unfold’’.
2. Structure of the Victoria Police
The Victoria Police has 10,800 sworn members and 2,000 public service support staff. There is one chief commissioner, two deputy commissioners and six assistant commissioners. There are 323 police stations and a significant number of these are within the city of Melbourne. Mr. Shuey thought that this was not dissimilar to Ireland in structure. The Victoria police is an armed force where weapons are openly displayed. All members are trained to carry arms and do carry them as a matter of course during their daily duties. Officers also carry a range of equipment including less lethal options such as the extendable baton, O.C. spray and handcuffs. ‘‘They are not allowed just to take out a firearm and say that is good enough,’’ Mr. Shuey
explained, ‘‘they must have the range of less lethal options with them, so they are able to tactically respond to any incident as the need arises’’. The use of such weapons is part of ongoing training.
The Special Operations Group (SOG) is similar in structure and numbers to the ERU. It operates from a central base in Melbourne deploying to any regional location where a critical incident involving a firearm is taking place.
3. Project Beacon
The establishment of Project Beacon followed a number of shooting incidents involving the use of firearms by the Victoria police. Between 1987 and 1994, officers were involved in operational incidents which resulted in the deaths of 29 offenders or suspects. Police were required to attend 15 to 20 incidents per day where use of force was employed and up to three ‘‘critical incidents’’ per week. A critical incident is defined as ‘‘any incident requiring police management which involves violence or a threat of violence and is, or is potentially, life-threatening’’. By mid-1994 this trend became the catalyst for fundamental change in operational safety tactics and training within the Victoria police. Expert analysis revealed that a number of factors may have contributed to this increase; namely, a feeling of vulnerability within the police force, a desire on the part of the community for instant solutions and a belief within the force that ‘‘there was no one else to solve these problems’’.
It was also felt that this trend was in part contributed to by the de-institutionalisation of patients with mental illness in Victoria in the early 1 990s. Six of nine fatal shooting incidents in 1994 by police (and one in 1995) involved persons with a mental illness. Statistics revealed that such persons were involved in 44% of all critical incidents reported to Project Beacon between October, 1994 and December, 1995. It was further noted that persons with mental illness were involved in approximately 4% of all ‘‘use of force’’ incidents, i.e., where force is used or threatened by or against the police. Emotionally disturbed persons attempting suicide and/or self-mutilation constituted a further 3.5% of use of force incidents. In general, a significant number of emotionally disturbed persons and people with behavioural problems, who may not have had histories of mental illness, regularly came to the police attention.
A number of reviews, both internal and with the assistance of international policing experts, were undertaken in an attempt to identify solutions. On 6th April, 1994, the Commissioner of the Victoria police, Mr. Neil Comrie, wrote to all commissioned officers emphasising the philosophy that ‘‘the success of an operation will primarily be judged by the extent to which the use of force is avoided or minimised’’.
On 19th September, 1994, Project Beacon was established and involved the standardisation of training so that all officers were trained to the same level of competence. The core principles of Project Beacon inform the response to every incident and the planning of operations which may involve any potential use of force. These core principles may be summarised as follows:
‘‘Safety First — the safety of police, the public and the offender or suspect is paramount.
Risk Assessment — is to be applied to all incidents and operations. Take Charge — effective command and control must be exercised.
Planned Response — every opportunity should be taken to convert an unplanned response into a planned operation.
Cordon and Containment — unless impractical, a cordon and containment approach is to be adopted.
Avoid Confrontation — a violent confrontation is to be avoided. Avoid Force — the use of force is to be avoided.
Minimum Force — where the use of force is to be avoided, only the minimum amount reasonably necessary is to be used.
Forced Entry Searches — are to be used only as a last resort.
Resources — it is accepted that the ‘‘safety first’’ principle may require the deployment of more resources, more complex planning and more time to complete’’.
The primary principle of Project Beacon is ‘‘safety first’’. The safety of the police officer is paramount, followed by the safety of the public and the safety of the subject. Mr. Shuey utilised the example of a doctor attending a collision to treat a patient: ‘‘the doctor wouldn’t stand in the middle of the road to do the treatment of the patient because he would be exposing himself to the risk of being run over by a car’’. If the police officer is in a position of security, he or she will be more competent and capable of handling the situation. If a police officer is not involved in anything which is unsafe, he will have a clearer perspective of what is happening and be able to deal with the situation accordingly. If you expose a police officer to a ‘‘kill or be killed’’ situation, the risk of a fatal confrontation increases.
A significant objective of Project Beacon was to assist police in dealing with persons with mental illness, emotionally disturbed individuals and persons with behavioural problems. Project Beacon, in collaboration with the Victoria Department of Health and Community Services, developed a comprehensive integrated approach for dealing with such persons which was incorporated into police training courses. The training involved video scenarios and role-playing and in December, 1995, a video called ‘‘Similar Expectations’’ was produced. It offered a range of methods for dealing with persons with mental illness, and provided advice from mental health experts. The video received widespread acceptance in law enforcement and mental health agencies and was automatically incorporated into every police officer’s training; it was not confined to the training of those who participated in dedicated negotiators courses. Further training programmes were developed by persons with expertise in psychiatric mental health with the assistance of a police psychologist.
8,500 police officers, student and operational, were placed on an initial, five day training course complemented by mandatory two-day refresher training every six
months. It is now part of ongoing training of police officers in the state of Victoria. Training for the Special Operations Group is rigorous and ongoing, taking place on most occasions when its members are not involved in operational response duties.
A ‘‘use of force register’’ is now maintained by the Victoria Police. Use of force incidents range from the forcible obtainment of fingerprints and handcuffing, through to riot situations. All such incidents are recorded in the register. This enables the police force in Victoria to track the number of incidents where force is a factor, and enables trend analysis in relation to the type of force and weapons that are used. This acts as a ‘‘catalyst’’ for the next six months of training. The information is analysed and if there is an excessive increase in crimes involving firearms or knives etc., the training in the following six months will be highlighted in that direction.
4. Special Operations Group (SOG)
The Special Operations Group of the Victoria Police is the equivalent operational unit to the Emergency Response Unit in Ireland. It is a full-time unit and is centralised in Melbourne. It has been in operation since 1977. The SOG has a responsibility to respond to, and assist in, critical incident resolution for all matters ranging from domestic violence (including life-threatening siege situations) to full counter-terrorist response. Given the size of the state, Victoria Police has three helicopters and fixed-wing services available to enable it to deploy quickly.
In Victoria, the structure system within the police force is rank based. In a siege situation, overall command is vested in the operations commander (i.e. the local superintendent) who has ultimate responsibility in resolving a crisis situation with the minimum use of force. Once deployed, a member of the SOG will act as the forward commander taking charge of the inner cordon. The operations commander will also have ultimate responsibility in respect of the actions of the forward commander. From a central base, the officer in charge of the deployment of the SOG, being the assistant commissioner, will provide a SOG team to assist in resolving the situation.
As with the Emergency Response Unit, considerable emphasis is placed on training both at home and abroad. Special Operation Group members must go through a psychological profile every few years. Psychologists are engaged in the selection process of Special Operation Group members.
Negotiators do not form part of the SOG, but are members of the Force Response Unit. However they undergo a considerable amount of training with the SOG. Negotiators undertake other policing activities unless and until they are called upon to negotiate. They are effectively part-time force negotiators, attending incidents as required. They operate on a 24 hour basis on-call system. Negotiators, generally speaking, are based in Melbourne; there are also a number of regional negotiators. General members of the force receive training in tactical communications such as
the need to talk calmly and softly to persons with mental illnesses, but do not receive training as one-to-one negotiators.
The negotiator works under the control of the tactical commander who is a member of the Special Operations Group. The tactical commander reports to the operations commander (the local scene commander).
Negotiator training focuses on crisis intervention rather than hostage negotiation as incidents involving hostages are minimal in Victoria compared to incidents requiring suicide intervention and crisis intervention. It is essential that negotiators are proficient in communication, cognitive, and relationship skills, and have personal and professional competence. Newly qualified negotiators are not normally used as primary negotiators in Victoria. Initially they are teamed with a person who has previous experience in acting in that capacity. They may be used as the secondary negotiator or as the fourth person in the team in order to gain experience and confidence.
6. Critical Incident Response Team
Melbourne has 24 hour response capability consisting of two teams known as Critical Incident Response Teams (CIRT). These teams are distinct from the Special Operation Group. Generally speaking, they will respond to non-firearm incidents, for example, they may attend at knife incidents. They ‘‘basically take the pressure off SOG in terms of responding to those incidents’’. If a firearm is involved, the SOG will be called in to assist. The CIRT may attend at a scene with a negotiator and will be responsible for providing cordons and containment. There are usually four members in a CIRT team, including the negotiator who attends alongside local, uniformed police officers. They possess a number of less lethal options including O.C. spray, batons and shields etc., as well as their standard issue firearm.
7. Crisis Assessment Treatment Teams
In the years prior to the establishment of Project Beacon, as stated above, the issue of the de-institutionalisation of patients with mental illness was becoming a significant contention for the police force. A number of responses and options were considered and attempted. The first was to place a police officer and a psychiatrist on duty in a dedicated car, to attempt to facilitate a joint response to critical incidents. This was available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in some suburbs of Melbourne. However, it was found to be prohibitively expensive. Further, incidents did not necessarily occur in the locations where the service was available. It also raised questions in relation to where the responsibility lay in dealing with persons with mental illness.
There was a general concern in society in relation to a perceived lack of community care from a mental health perspective. The increase in the number of critical incidents involving persons with mental illness in 1994 raised the ante in the health area as well as in the police environment. Further consideration was given in relation to
the establishment of a 24 hour response team from the Department of Health and Community Services. The result was the establishment of the Crisis Assessment Treatment Team. They were created to treat people in the community who had serious mental illness, as an alternative to psychiatric in-patient admission, where such treatment would be appropriate. The CAT teams’ primary role is in relation to the welfare of clients in their area. One such responsibility is to deal with any situation involving critical risks. CAT teams comprise a number of psychiatric nurses who are generally funded by the Department of Health and Community Services. They are on-call on a 24 hour basis.
CAT teams have been involved in numerous situations, including those where the subject is known to have a mental illness and a prior history of violence, is known to have been a threat to the safety of another, or has shown significant self-neglect or a high level of distress. Alternatively, it may be a person who presents with a history of, or displays a current threat of, deliberate self-harm or attempted suicide and who is behaving in an erratic manner.
In 1995, a National Crisis Intervention Ad Hoc Advisory Group was established by the Commonwealth Minister for Health to provide expert advice to the Australian police on good practice approaches to liaison between police and mental health services in the management of critical incidents involving people with mental illnesses. The primary recommendation was that the safety of all parties involved is paramount. According to Mr. Shuey, the relationship between police and mental health authorities has improved dramatically since formalising the interface between the agencies and focusing attention on the issue of safety first; a principle also at the heart of Project Beacon.
To further strengthen the interface between the police and the mental health services, an Interdepartmental Liaison Committee was established. Representations were received from the Chief Health Officer, the head of psychiatry, assistant commissioner of operations and assistant commissioner of training; the police medical officer and the head of CAT services. According to Mr. Shuey, this proved very effective in establishing the necessary rapport between the various agencies, streamlining progress and providing a professional service to those most in need of care and attention.
As a consequence of the workings of the Interdepartmental Liaison Committee, a series of protocols were established between the Victoria police and the Department of Health and Community Services Psychiatric Services Division in that State. Under these protocols, CAT teams attend at the scene of high-risk, mental health crisis situations and provide consultation to police members as soon as practicable. In certain high-risk situations, trained police negotiators, Special Operations Group members or police psychologists might also be involved. Responsibility for management of the situation remains with the police at all times. CAT teams do not perform a face to face assessment until given clearance from the police and they do not act as negotiators. If a CAT team is requested to provide assistance in such situations, the police, at the time of request will provide as much information as
possible. The CAT team service staff may need to clarify a number of matters with the police, namely (a) procedure for gaining access if the scene is secured; (b) how to identify themselves to the person in command of the scene; (c) where they should position themselves at the scene; (d) expectations about their role, and (e), where the individual is charged with an offence, the advice of the forensic medical officer.
Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that CAT teams had proven to be highly beneficial as a service in both high-risk and routine matters requiring the professional intervention of a CAT team and the police. In non-life-threatening situations strong rapport and co-operation has developed between the local police and the CAT teams. Thus, for example, in the context of a domestic situation where there was a ‘‘hint’’ that somebody may have a mental difficulty, the police would automatically request the attendance of the on-call CAT team to assist them, resulting in positive early intervention. In life-threatening incidents, CAT teams have attended in conjunction with the police to provide background advice to negotiators or forward commanders on such matters as the emotional and psychiatric history of a subject or patient known to them; such information may be invaluable in assisting in the peaceful resolution of an incident.
The team may have had a prior involvement with the patient before any incident occurred or they may be in a position to access case histories due to their participation in the health area; even though they may not have particular or specific involvement with the individual in question. In circumstances where the subject may not be known by the health authorities prior to the incident, CAT teams may also attend on request. They may be of assistance in analysing behaviour and may arrive at the conclusion that such behaviour is symptomatic of a psychiatric problem. Such analysis may assist the negotiator to get a ‘‘better feel for what is happening at the scene’’. They will also provide advice to the negotiator as to how to deal with the behavioural manifestations of the subject. In addition the CAT team might ascertain information regarding medication which the subject is taking. A simple but useful example is where a particular tablet is mentioned; the nurse will know its purpose and may be able to deduce whether the subject is likely to have been in psychiatric care. Members of the team may also contact the subject’s own general practitioner, or treating psychiatrist and act as a conduit for any information received. They may also act in conjunction with the police psychologist.
CAT team psychiatric nurses have been involved in the training of members of the police force.
CAT teams may also be valuable in providing follow-up assistance in circumstances where the conclusion of an incident necessitates a mental health response rather than a law enforcement response. Where an offender was committed to a mental institution, and is due for release, CAT teams will work on a rehabilitation programme in conjunction with the local station commander to ensure effective re-introduction into the local community; thereby hopefully preventing the recurrence of a similar incident.
In praising the resource that the CAT team provides, Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that the real benefit in a siege type situation is that there is ‘‘a mix of expertise provided to the forward commander and the tactical commander, again just an option, it may not work, but it is seen that it is best to have all the resources at your disposal rather than not have them’’.
8. Structured call taking
The Victoria police has a centralised command and control call taking facility. In Melbourne it is part of an outsourced contract for emergency services while in rural areas it is manned by police personnel. There is a high focus on eliciting all relevant information from the caller in a structured way so that the first responders are not exposed to unnecessary risk when attending a critical incident. As such, the taking of the initial call is part of the early stages of risk assessment and intelligence gathering; it captures quality information which police need in order to safely and effectively attend emergency situations.
9. Deployment of Special Operations Group and Negotiation Team
Authority to call out the SOG rests with the assistant commissioner. However, in an emergency situation, the unit may self-activate, obtaining endorsement from the assistant commissioner while en route to the incident. Before deployment is authorised the assistant commissioner will go through a checklist with the operations commander at the scene to ensure that the call-out of the SOG is justified. In certain circumstances deployment will be automatically justified (where an offender has been discharging his weapon), however, the assistant commissioner will ensure that the local commander has carried out an adequate risk assessment of the incident. Explaining the role of the assistant commissioner in charge of the SOG, Mr. Shuey said: ‘‘you are more likely to withhold authorisation until the justification was completely provided to your satisfaction’’. He further explained that the assistant commissioner would not normally offer advice at the incident: ‘‘if you have not been there for the totality of the incident, then you have not got a full appreciation of what is happening there at the time. It would be unusual to provide any critical advice’’.
Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that in the Abbeylara type situation, in Victoria, negotiators and the Special Operational Group would have been rapidly deployed to the scene. A minimum of fourteen Special Operation Group members would be deployed. In addition a team of four negotiators and two to three dog teams would be deployed, according to availability. Given the rural location, a regional negotiator may have been available to attend and the balance of the team would be deployed from a central location in Melbourne. If this were not the case then a full team of four negotiators would have deployed from the capital city to the location. A qualified police psychologist would also have been requested to attend to provide expert advice to the team and the forward commander, together with a member of the local mental health Crisis Assessment Treatment Team. A specialist Technical Support Unit would also attend to assist the SOG in containing and observing the premises by setting up monitors and cameras as appropriate. A relief team would be
automatically provided owing to the duration of the siege, and a roster programmed accordingly.
En route to the incident the SOG commander would provide advice to the local superintendent. The negotiator would also be available to give advice. On arrival a full briefing would be undertaken. An ‘‘officer’s checklist’’ is used in order to obtain a full briefing. This checklist is a written pre-prepared document based on likely scenarios and likely resources that will be required. Logging is regarded as a critical part of the operation. Mr. Shuey observed: ‘‘we work on the premise that the shortest note is better than the longest memory’’. All incidents will be recorded, including the logging in and out of every member from the scene. Therefore there is total accountability in terms of the participation of each member.
Upon arrival at a critical incident, the police officers, whether they be first responders, or a Special Operation Group member, will employ a strategy, similar to that employed in Ireland of isolation, containment, evacuation and negotiation. Emphasis is also placed on the conclusion of the incident and rehabilitation of the area to its original order.
The negotiation team consists of the primary negotiator, secondary negotiator, team leader and a fourth person as assistant. Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that the complexities of an incident, such as at Abbeylara, would have made it very difficult for one member to do the job of negotiating on his own. Accepting that resourcing is an issue in any jurisdiction, Mr. Shuey explained that the Victoria police had adopted resourcing as one of the ten core principles of Project Beacon which led to appropriate resources for negotiating teams creating a ‘‘team approach’’ to negotiations. He could not say, however, whether the outcome would have been any different at Abbeylara had a full team of negotiators been used.
In Melbourne, there is a psychology unit comprising, at varying times, between four and six qualified psychologists. They are full-time employees of the police department. They provide for the police a range of services including advice on welfare matters. If an incident occurs involving a person with a mental illness or behavioural problem, they are automatically requested to attend. In some remote locations, other psychological services are available to the police on an on-call basis.
The role of the police psychologist at a critical incident is primarily to provide support to the negotiation team. However, it is important to note that they have no role in direct negotiations with a subject; they are there in an advisory capacity only. They may advise the principal negotiator on the highs and lows of what is happening. They may also advise in relation to particular tactics which may be beneficial in the context of negotiation. They consult with medical personnel who may be looking after the subject and would act as a contact and conduit to other medical services. They also provide an oversight function to the welfare of individuals at the scene, and are responsible for psychological debriefing following an incident, particularly where it
has been traumatic. The police psychologists are involved with negotiation teams to a high degree, providing input into training courses by way of lectures and briefings.
10. Isolate, contain, evacuate and negotiate
The response of isolate, contain, evacuate and negotiate is the core principle of siege management in Victoria. Upon arrival at any critical incident, police officers, whether they be first responders or members of the Special Operations Group, are trained to isolate or secure the incident site and to ensure that the stronghold or premises used by the subject is completely contained and escape is not possible. The area will also be evacuated whereby all civilian bystanders will be removed from within the inner and outer perimeters. Negotiation may then commence.
The basic concept is to isolate the offender from an external environment, said Mr. Shuey: ‘‘that means that you cut off their supply of electricity, gas, water, phone lines, television, anything at all whereby the person that is causing the problem has creature comfort facilities so to speak and access to communicate with the outside world. You are basically providing both physical and psychological isolation’’. However, Mr. Shuey noted that this requirement is not rigid and inflexible but more a guiding principle for the management of operations. Telephone communication can be isolated on a one-to-one basis both in terms of land lines and mobile phones. The assistant commissioner effectively has the power to provide a warrant to the telecommunications company to provide such isolation; it does not require a legal request through a court process.
The Victoria police do not force confrontation as a matter of policy. They take all steps available to negotiate a peaceful resolution to an incident.
11. Time, distance and cover
Mr. Shuey referred to the taking of protective action in the context of ‘‘time, distance and cover’’. These are strategies which are operationally employed to minimise risks. It is, he said, a simplistic approach to incident resolution which is drilled into members.
In the context of time it is probable that, if the offender is affected by drugs or alcohol, time may help in the resolution of the incident; the longer the time the greater the advantage the police officers have of obtaining a peaceful resolution. In the context of distance it is necessary to maintain a distance from the immediate threat, e.g., if it is a knife incident, the minimum distance required is 21 feet. The police officer must make sure that he or she is not in that minimum distance and must assess any barriers such as a chair or table that may impact on that distance. In the context of cover, members are trained as to what is appropriate ballistic cover and how not to position oneself as a target for the offender to shoot at.
12. Mobile command centre/command post
The SOG establishes a command centre (or post) at the scene. There are a number of designated command caravans available in metropolitan areas that are fitted out specifically for this purpose. In other areas a police vehicle such as a ‘‘booze bus’’ may be commandeered. These are vehicles available locally that are used in roadblock checks to intercept people driving under the influence of alcohol. They have automatic generators and provide a good working environment.
In Victoria two cordons are put in place: an outer cordon which looks outwards and an inner cordon which looks inwards in order to monitor and contain the stronghold. A sterile area is maintained between the two areas. The circumstances of the incident will dictate the distance between the cordons. It will depend on whether it is an ‘‘edged weapon incident’’ or a ‘‘firearms incident’’ with cordons being placed appropriately. Any person coming in or out of either cordon is formally logged on and off the cordon.
Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that when the Special Operations Group contain an incident, an armed offender is not allowed to exit through the inner perimeter, which is seen as the proverbial ‘‘line in the sand’’. A conscious decision is made that will ensure the safety of all persons outside the inner perimeter; namely, that the subject not be permitted through the inner cordon. If the subject approaches at that point, they must be challenged by the police tactical operations team and if violent confrontation results, as a matter of last resort, it is met with lethal force. Therefore an important part of any incident is the devising of an emergency action plan which necessarily includes an unexpected exit from the stronghold. Such a plan will be discussed between the various commanders, committed to writing and signed off. The plan is based on a thorough risk assessment of the possible tactical options in relation to an unexpected exit by the subject, to forcible entry of the stronghold, to the utilisation of less lethal options.
Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that in Victoria a negotiating cell consists of four persons, namely a primary negotiator, a secondary negotiator, a team leader and an assistant. It is usually located outside the inner cordon in a specially designated vehicle or a house, as appropriate. It is important that the negotiations are not carried out in ‘‘an
area of compromise.’’
The primary negotiator’s function is to establish negotiations with the subject by establishing and maintaining rapport and working towards a peaceful resolution. The secondary negotiator acts as back-up to the primary negotiator. He or she may take over negotiations if the primary negotiator requires a rest break. The secondary negotiator will also be responsible for feeding intelligence to the primary negotiator; it is felt that primary negotiators should never have to source that information themselves. The team leader is responsible for co-ordinating the activities within the
negotiation cell. He or she is in the role of supervisor and observer. The team leader’s responsibilities include ensuring that a proper log is maintained and will also include overseeing the welfare of the officers in the cell. He or she also acts as the interface between the negotiation cell and the other commanders, providing briefings as appropriate. The role of the fourth person is one of assistant to the negotiation effort. He or she will be responsible for the recording and maintenance of the negotiation log and the recording of the negotiations. Communications may be recorded within the negotiation cell. Negotiators have a responsibility to brief and debrief at various stages during their engagement. This is especially important at the end of an incident where they are expected to do an ‘‘honest debrief about what worked and what didn’t work’’ with the focus on continuous improvement.
Mr. Shuey accepted that the practicality of life is such that if you have face to face negotiations you have better communication, but he stated that the safety first principle usually overrides this. Not placing the negotiator in the front line is the result of a safety first policy that supersedes every operational objective:
‘‘We wouldn’t put anybody in a position where they are subject to a threat, a serious threat to life and again, working on the concept of taking somebody from a position of safety to a position of risk, would not be seen to be the best way to do it from our point of view, so the negotiation cell would be placed by the tactical commander in a location that was safe but [from which] they are able to do the communications effectively.’’
The face to face concept ‘‘wouldn’t be undertaken unless there was a reduced threat’’ from the individual and particularly not if they had possession of a firearm; with a firearm ‘‘you can’t get the safety factor’’. Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that, in principle, he did not have a difficulty with the idea of face to face negotiations where there is ballistic cover and where other attempts at communication have failed. Ballistic cover is any situation where the member was protected by buildings or any other intervention material such as a safety rescue vehicle — ‘‘any situation where basically it was impossible for them to be injured’’.
If the subject has already built up a rapport with a local member of the police by the time the negotiator arrives, the local member will be permitted to continue negotiating. However, the trained negotiator will always be responsible for controlling the negotiations.
In Victoria, when the subject is not receptive to negotiations, a number of appliances are used, such as the landline, mobile phone or field phone, until such time as the subject responds. In circumstances where there is difficulty in communication, an armoured vehicle with a loudhailer may be used and in this way safety is maintained. However, if the offender fired shots at the vehicle it would be removed as it is seen as a ‘‘pointless exercise’’ in that it provides another target of aggression for the individual.
The principles of negotiation are based on gaining empathy, providing feedback and developing rapport. A core principle of negotiation is trust building and that
therefore, as a rule, one would not allow a situation where the negotiator misleads the subject.
Negotiators are considered operational police members. They are armed in the normal course of their duties, but will not be placed in a position where they might be required to discharge their firearm.
15. Negotiator rest breaks
Mr. Shuey stated that, in Victoria, the timing of rest breaks depends entirely on the circumstances of the incident as they unfold. If one were at a critical stage of positive negotiation, a break would not be contemplated. On the other hand, if there was an element of ‘‘down time’’ in the negotiations then it might be considered appropriate to provide for extended breaks. The responsibility of the negotiator is to establish and continue a rapport with the individual; from that perspective, a rest break may become irrelevant. However, Mr. Shuey stressed the overriding consideration of the welfare of all members during the siege, including the negotiator. Members of a negotiation cell would be relieved from duty in a staggered fashion so that there is always an element of continuity to the cell and impetus is not lost. ‘‘It is a matter of degrees and a matter of assessing the situation at that particular time,’’ Mr. Shuey explained.
16. Third party intermediaries (TPIs)
The experience of the Victoria police is that the use of third party intermediaries is fraught with danger as the results are unpredictable. Sometimes, they have been the catalysts for a dramatic ending to an incident. Every situation is viewed on its merits and the value of TPIs adjudged accordingly. He explained:
‘‘Family members tend to think that they can negotiate effectively with the subject/individual and the reality of life is that they can’t... Colleagues may also think they have a good rapport with the individual and, again, the reality of life says that they are not good at negotiating; they don’t necessarily do what they are told. They are probably what I classify as a ‘‘loose cannon’’ in the context of what gains may have been made; you sometimes get a setback with introducing a third party’’.
However, all third parties are automatically interviewed for the purpose of obtaining advice, opinions and recommendations. This information is examined and an assessment made as to whether it is more beneficial to simply utilise the intelligence gleaned rather than introduce the individual into the negotiating process. TPIs have an important role, Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal, but they are most effective as providers of intelligence rather than being involved in direct negotiations.
In circumstances where there is difficulty communicating with the subject, the use of non-police persons to speak to the subject is given serious consideration. They are assessed in relation to their demeanour, and the benefit they may be in resolving the situation is also analysed. Mr. Shuey agreed with counsel for the Commissioner that
it is probably better to try something rather than nothing and that, if nothing else is working, TPIs are an option that may be considered. However, particular concern is exercised for their safety.
17. Cigarettes and solicitors
Mr. Shuey was aware that John Carthy had requested cigarettes and a solicitor. He told the Tribunal that in Victoria these would have been considered ‘‘irrelevant’’ in a physical sense but would be viewed in a positive light as a means of building trust; they would be seen as ‘‘negotiable avenues’’. However, the safety aspects of the operation would have primacy over a response to any such requests.
Mr. Shuey explained that there is no drama in providing the cigarettes so long as they may be delivered without compromising the safety of any of the individual members. Delivery would be an exercise of goodwill on behalf of the negotiator to assist in rapport building. In normal circumstances a controlled delivery is carried out. Mr. Shuey was asked if it would be necessary to communicate with the subject in relation to such delivery. He replied that the more communication you have with the subject, the better it is in the context of rapport building: ‘‘it really does not matter what the context of the conversation is or the constructive delivery, whether it is clothing or equipment or a meal or whatever, that does not matter; as long as you have communications going on effectively then you are in a positive line’’.
He accepted that having a solicitor available, when requested, indicates that ‘‘at least you have gone to the extent of showing good faith and it may be a position where you can get to the bottom of whatever is causing the trouble’’. Where a specific solicitor was not known or available, Mr. Shuey expressed the opinion that any solicitor may have assisted, at least for the purpose of showing that the police were trying to help. However, he was adamant that a solicitor would not be permitted within a stronghold; no one would be permitted within the stronghold.
Mr. Shuey thought that the benefit of the negotiation cell in Victoria, with its four members, may have influenced the manner in which these requests would have been considered by the Victoria police. He observed:
‘‘While it is an easy comment to make in hindsight, the provision of a team to handle this situation may have allowed for these requests to be provided rather than rely on one qualified member assisted by an untrained member who had to take over when the primary member needed rest’’.
18. Intelligence gathering
Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that intelligence is gathered as a means of supporting decision-making in relation to the best tactics to resolve the situation. As a first means of gathering information the police in Victoria look at a number of background matters relating to the subject, for example, whether he was known to the police or had any criminal history record or mental health record. They also gather information to try and assess what had happened in the preceding days or weeks which is causing
or contributing to the behaviour of the individual. As discussed above, potential third-party intermediaries are a helpful resource in this regard.
19. Line in the sand and moving containment
As already stated, in Victoria, that an armed offender, once contained, will not be permitted to exit through the inner perimeter. This is what he described as a proverbial ‘‘line in the sand’’:
‘‘A conscious decision is made that will ensure the safety of all persons outside the inner perimeter. No offender will be permitted to exit through the cordon. Should the suspect approach that point they must be challenged by police tactical operators and if a violent confrontation results, as a matter of last resort, it will be met with lethal force.’’
A subject exiting the house and acting in a bravado fashion may not necessarily be regarded as a breach of the inner cordon. However, if the subject made a deliberate attempt to breach a line in the sand, which may be fifty or one hundred metres away from the house, then an officer has ‘‘automatically a responsibility to make sure the offender didn’t breach that area’’. The situation has then changed from one of a reasonable degree of control over the subject to a situation which is completely unknown. The risk level is raised dramatically by the offender’s action.
In Victoria, the concept of moving containment is not considered safe or effective in circumstances where the subject is armed with a firearm. Mr. Shuey classified such a moving containment situation as ‘‘high risk’’ and ‘‘fraught with danger’’. If it arises you have to attempt to communicate in a dynamic environment in a situation where the outcome is totally unknown — ‘‘so from our point of view, the moving containment is not really an accepted practice’’. It is something which may happen when you are following, rather than trying to contain; for example, where an offender is on the loose with a weapon and you have not already contained the individual. Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that the SOG do receive some training in moving containment ‘‘in terms of the hypothetical and the risk assessment’’.
In Victoria, the warning which is used is either: ‘‘police, don’t move’’, or ‘‘police, drop your weapon’’. The subject is not warned that he is likely to be shot if he does not drop his weapon or if he moves, but Mr. Shuey was certain that ‘‘the intonation in what is being given would leave the offender or suspect in no doubt that there would be some dramatic consequences for failure to comply with the action’’.
21. Training in relation to where to shoot
Mr. Shuey explained that as a firearm is used as a weapon of last resort, officers in Victoria are trained to shoot at the central body mass, so as to cause instantaneous incapacitation and stop the immediacy of the threat to life.
The decision by an officer in Victoria to discharge or not to discharge a weapon is an individual one and does not involve a situation of a junior officer following the direction or lead of a more senior officer.
22. ‘‘Use of force’’ models
Use of force models are used by police forces to provide guidance to the appropriate response in any given situation and to ensure that only force which is necessary to resolve a situation is used. Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that there were a number of such models which have been considered in the past by the Victoria police. Three categories or models were considered: namely, incremental, situational and tactical.
The traditional use of force model which was developed in the United States was ‘‘incremental’’ in nature. Effectively, this dictates that the required police response is one level higher than the threat posed. For example, if an offender draws a knife, the police respond with a firearm. This concept was rejected in Victoria on the basis that it had the capacity to escalate a situation; once a firearm is drawn the incident automatically becomes a firearms incident and it is difficult for an officer to then de-escalate or change that dynamic.
The ‘‘situational’’ model involves police choosing a tactical response based on a consideration of the circumstances confronting them. Mr. Shuey noted, however, that this model was not satisfactory and did not take into account all options that may be employed, such as the continuous use of communications as a primary response to incidents.
The Victoria Police elected to adopt a ‘‘tactical’’ options model, following closely the experience of the Canadian police. This model allows for a range of different tactical responses to be attempted, in an effort to resolve an incident. Its attraction lies in its simplicity and emphasis on effective communication as an ongoing requirement throughout an incident. The need to constantly assess and reassess the risks involved in incidents is a priority in this model. As circumstances change throughout the incident, so may the appropriate response:
‘‘the police response is not a one way continuum... de-escalation, including tactical disengagement, is just as necessary as escalation in response to the evolving nature of the incident. The options refer to a range of competencies such as an appreciation of command and control principles, communication skills, conflict resolution skill, less than lethal equipment and firearms as a very last resort... there is no hierarchy in the whole exercise because you could at one minute have your firearm drawn, the next minute, you could be back into a resolution situation without any hurt or any sort of threat.’’
23. Less lethal options
Mr. Shuey gave evidence that the less lethal options that have been considered and used in Victoria are not always suitable when responding to a subject armed with a firearm. Although the Victoria police are trained to always try and avoid a direct
‘‘firearm approach equals firearm response’’ model, the practicality is that often the only way to resolve such a situation may be police use of firearms. Commanders are trained to employ continuous risk assessment throughout an incident looking at all tactical options that are available, and if less lethal options may be deployed then they should be.
SOG members have a number of less lethal options available. At an incident such as Abbeylara, they would have the use of a safety rescue vehicle. Such a vehicle has complete ballistic cover and may have O.C. sprays (both foggers and streamers) attached to it. There have been circumstances where it has been driven at the offender and O.C. spray released or dogs deployed from it.
In a non-firearm incident they have a range of less lethal options to deploy, including bean bags and O.C. spray canisters. In the context of a firearm incident, less lethal options are generally speaking not employed because they are ‘‘not seen to be effective in the concept of counteracting a firearm’’. This is generally because of the distance involved and the dangers associated with a firearm incident. However, they are not discounted from consideration and the SOG are trained to always consider less lethal options as a primary response together with the use of police dogs. Less lethal weapons are usually operated in conjunction with other such weapons and often in conjunction with a safety rescue vehicle. However if the subject is going through the inner cordon, and is perceived as a threat to life, and there are no other means available of reducing or minimising that threat, then lethal force may be used to resolve the situation.
At the time of giving evidence to the Tribunal, Mr. Shuey reported that the Victoria police were in the process of introducing the Air Taser which he believes to be a highly effective less lethal option. However, he noted that it has the same limitations as other less lethal options in being unsuitable for dealing with firearms incidents involving confrontation with an armed offender. The Taser was not in use in Victoria in 2000.
Dog teams automatically attend all incidents involving siege or siege/hostage situations. Dogs are not part of the SOG team. They are an additional operational response unit to assist members in the field to handle whatever situation arises. However, once deployed, the dog unit comes under the control of the Special Operations Group officer. Dog units and the SOG regularly train together.
In Victoria, there are a number of dogs that are used in various applications. They are housed in a domestic environment with children so that they respond to orders rather than to natural aggression. Siege dogs are classified as ‘‘grade 3 dogs’’ and receive extra specialist training. There are 21 operational, general purpose canine teams (five of which are rated as grade three dog teams) in Victoria.
Mr. Shuey noted that there are problems with deploying police dogs in firearm incidents including the risk to the dog, the risk to the handler, the inability of the dog
to penetrate locked or closed door situations, and a difficulty in getting the dog close enough to the subject to attack without exposing the handler to the subject’s weapon. Dogs are not foolproof and cannot always be relied upon to achieve a desired result. Provided the dog handler gets the dog to appreciate that the individual is a threat, a dog may be advisable. Dogs are trained to react to fleeing or rapidly moving subjects who will automatically be a target for a dog, or two dogs as the case may be. However, if the subject is quiet or is walking in a measured way then it might be difficult for the handler to persuade their dogs that such a person should be attacked. In such circumstances the deployment of dogs is a low option and may not be appropriate. Much depends on the distance between the handler and the subject, whether a line of sight can be obtained, whether the dog can be distracted and whether there is a possibility that the subject might have time to close his gun and discharge it at an officer. The practicality is that the tactical commander enquires of the dog handler if, in his view, the dog could be used to take down the offender. A judgement is then made within what may be a very short time-frame. On any risk assessment, one goes for the least high risk response and if deploying a dog might escalate the situation or provoke a reaction it would be discounted.
In the context of the Abbeylara situation, he noted ‘‘the fact that ERU members were calling out to drop the weapon and this would be a confusing situation for the dog because the dog really responds to a reaction and is trained to work in that way’’. Therefore, the dog may act in an unpredictable fashion and one could not guarantee that the dog would automatically go for the offender. It is the function of the tactical commander to assess the value of deploying dogs at any given time.
In Victoria, the two dog approach has been proven to be ‘‘extremely successful’’. The dogs may be sent from two separate locations at the subject creating an element of surprise that makes this approach successful.
Victoria police also have the use of a ‘‘dog cam’’, that is, a camera which is secured to the top of the dog’s head. The dog can be commanded to enter a designated building or environment and the camera may be operated and viewed from a remote location. These dogs are frequently used for searches but they can, if necessary, be deployed in high risk situations for surveillance purposes. Dogs are trained to bite on command.
25. Media officers
There are a number of full-time media officers in the Victoria police. They automatically attend an incident such as Abbeylara. A media liaison individual leader is appointed. He or she would assist the operations commander in the preparation of a plan to make sure that the media did not create a problem at the scene.
There is a general policy within the Victoria police to provide limited and controlled access for the media to a particular incident. They are also provided with information by way of briefings which are the responsibility of the media liaison officer. Where necessary an exclusion zone may be declared. This may involve a request from the
operational commander to the air safety authority, for example, to establish a no-fly zone. If it is breached, a pilot may lose his licence. However, Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that they ‘‘would very rarely get any situation at all where there is even a hint of a breach of that declaration’’. To direct the media not to report certain matters, goodwill is relied upon.
26. Welfare officers
Unit leaders oversee the welfare of their members and are responsible for rostering and providing appropriate rest periods. However, the operations commander has overall responsibility for the welfare of all personnel at a scene.
27. Police helicopter
The Victoria police have a helicopter based in Melbourne city which can be used in the context of extended sieges within close proximity to Melbourne. Such helicopters are equipped with thermal imaging and lighting capabilities. Whilst such equipment may not necessarily be beneficial to resolution of the incident, it is at the operational commander’s disposal if required. It provides another strategic option. It may prove to be particularly useful in intelligence gathering in relation to topography and an assessment of possible escape routes available to the offender. Further, the thermal imaging provides that images can be relayed from the air to the command vehicle in circumstances where an incident is occurring within a 100km. radius of Melbourne.
28. ‘‘Suicide by Cop’’
Mr. Shuey told the Tribunal that the concept of ‘‘suicide by cop’’ is something that the Victoria police have been aware of for the last ten years or so and that that awareness has been heightened by some of the work that is being done in this area in the United States.
29. Ethical Standards Department
If a fatality occurs as a result of an ‘‘in-custody’’ incident it is automatically investigated by the police homicide squad and the ethical standards department. In-custody incidents include all situations where the police have some form of control or intervention in the circumstances and would include a siege situation such as occurred at Abbeylara. The ethical standards department is a group of personnel operating within the police environment whose task is to conduct internal reviews and internal investigations as the need arises. This body investigates all incidents from allegations of assault, adverse behaviours of police officers, corruption and anything at all involving death or injuries to civilians. It is a body which has a responsibility to report incidents through to the State Ombudsman. A critical incident review of any in-custody incident is automatically conducted by an assistant commissioner and all information is furnished to a Coronial Inquiry as appropriate.
SECTION B: — New Zealand
1. Superintendent Neville Matthews
Superintendent Matthews is a serving member of the New Zealand Police Force. At the time of his evidence to the Tribunal he had served as a member of the force for 32 years, in the last ten years of which he held the position of National Manager Operations and National Commander of the Special Tactics Group. As the National Manager Operations, Superintendent Matthews had national responsibility for issues relating to the uniformed branch of the police force. His areas of responsibility included emergency management, counter terrorism exercises; tactical groups including the Armed Offender Squads, the Special Tactics Group and the Police Negotiation Team; police firearms and related equipment; and, community liaison. As National Commander of the Special Tactics Group he had command responsibility for serious criminal incidents involving firearms, acts of terrorism, hostage taking or any incident beyond the capability of the Armed Offender Squads. He has commanded the Special Tactics Group in a number of such operations and terrorist exercises.
Superintendent Matthews is also the leading New Zealand police expert in less lethal weapons. In 1996, he prepared a paper entitled ‘‘Less Than Lethal Weapons, A Study of Current Weapons and Recommendations for Enhancement’’. The paper resulted in the introduction of O.C. spray as a defensive tool for all front-line officers. In May, 2003, he completed a research and evaluation paper on current less lethal weapon technology entitled ‘‘Project Lincoln: a review of less lethal weapons and related issues’’. It considered not only less lethal weapons but also armoured protected vehicles for police, police firearms and an enhanced differential response to critical incidents involving dangerous weapons.
At the time of giving evidence to the Tribunal, Superintendent Matthews was the only New Zealand police officer qualified as a United Nations Training Team Adviser. He has been awarded the New Zealand Operation Service Medal; the East Timor Medal and the New Zealand Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. In 2000, he was awarded a Commissioner’s Commendation for work done with the first New Zealand Police Deployment to the United Nations Mission in East Timor. In 2002, he was awarded an FBI Certificate of Appreciation for exceptional service in the public interest. In March, 2004, Superintendent Matthews was appointed the police liaison officer at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, USA. He is a Colonel Commandant of the Royal New Zealand Military Police and holds the rank of Honorary Colonel in the New Zealand Army.
2. The New Zealand Police Force
New Zealand has a population of 4.1 million people. The New Zealand police force consists of 9,500 staff of which 7,400 are sworn and 2,100 non-sworn. The police force is headed by a police commissioner who is supported by two deputy commissioners. There are four assistant commissioners. The next rank is that of superintendent; the rank of chief superintendent no longer existing in the New Zealand police force.
New Zealand is divided into 12 policing districts, each under the command of a superintendent with a number of additional superintendents operating from headquarters.
The New Zealand police force is, in general, an unarmed force. However, up until the early 1 960s its detective branch carried firearms as a matter of course. In 1962, an incident occurred where two officers went to a domestic dispute. They were unarmed. Both were shot by an offender who discharged a rifle from the house. As a result of an inquiry, ‘‘Armed Offender Squads’’ were established in each police district. With the creation of the Armed Offender Squads, general duty officers (including detectives) do not carry firearms as a matter of course.
3. Armed Offender Squads (AOS)
Armed Offender Squads operate on a part-time basis with members of the squads holding full-time positions within the New Zealand police force. They are called together as and when necessary to deal with incidents involving firearms. There are 1 7 squads throughout the country. They have a total of approximately 250 officers. Members of the squad receive training additional to that received by the general police in New Zealand. Candidates must go through a selection process, conducted in their local area. Initially, they will be used in non-forward roles until such time as they have attended an AOS national training course. This course is of 1 7 days’ duration and at the end of the course officers qualify as AOS members.
4. Special Tactics Group (STG)
The Special Tactics Groups developed from the Anti-Terrorist Squad formed in 1978 in response to a government requirement for police to have a capability to deal with armed and barricaded terrorists. At this time there were a number of high profile airplane hijackings around the world. The function of the STG is to provide a tactical response, including command, control, intelligence, information technology, tactical operators, including snipers, for the most serious critical incidents which may involve heavily armed and barricaded offenders, hostage taking or any other such incident that is beyond the capability of Armed Offender Squads. The Special Tactics Group has 39 members. As at July, 2003 it is a full time force within the New Zealand police. Given the geographical size of the country, the Special Tactics Group is divided into three units based in the cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Units train locally, with all coming together three to four times per year for national training. There are also a number of specialist courses. Officers are required to return to general policing duties for a minimum of three weeks each year.
5. Police Negotiation Teams (PNT)
Superintendent Matthews advised the Tribunal that approximately 70% of all armed offender situations in New Zealand are resolved through negotiation. The role of the police negotiator is to establish contact with the subject and, using negotiation tactics and experience, to resolve incidents with as little risk to all parties as possible. The
training of New Zealand police officers in crisis negotiation is based on the principles taught at the FBI academy.
Police Negotiation Teams comprise a supervisor, a primary negotiator and a secondary negotiator. Sometimes a fourth negotiator is employed as a log keeper. The Police Negotiation Team works on a part-time, on-call basis. Even in domestic siege type situations, where there are no hostages and perhaps just one person in the house, it is policy to have three members of a negotiation cell present; all are trained negotiators.
The role of the supervisor is to ensure that the primary and/or secondary negotiators are negotiating in a proper manner. He or she develops the negotiation tactics based on the strategy decided by either the forward commander or the operation commander and is responsible for overseeing its appropriate implementation. This will include attending tactical meetings that are held by the operation commander to provide updates as to what is occurring. The supervisor is also responsible for overseeing the welfare of the other members of the negotiation cell. If a fourth person is not available to the negotiation cell, the secondary negotiator will be responsible for keeping a log. Primary and secondary negotiators work closely as a team and they may in fact swap roles during the course of an incident if it is considered advantageous to do so.
Members of the Police Negotiation Team are not armed.
PNT members are recruited and trained in the following way. When a vacancy arises, local PNT members will normally approach a particular officer and invite him or her to train as a PNT member; it is ‘‘a local, self-selection process’’ that matches negotiators to the requirements of the AOS. Normally a non-commissioned officer, such as a constable or a detective, will be selected. The officer then undergoes a police negotiation course, at the National Police College, of 14 days’ duration. He or she continues training locally, at least one day a month. Some of this training consists of working alongside the Armed Offender Squad. At the time of giving evidence to the Tribunal there were approximately 45 trained police negotiators in New Zealand.
6. Police training in use of firearms
All members of the New Zealand police force are trained in the use of firearms and are required to re-qualify each year in the use of such weapons. While all officers are trained in the use of firearms, they do not carry them unless there is a particular requirement. Further, no officers carry firearms while they are wearing general duty uniform. Members may carry police issue firearms on their person if there is clear and specific evidence that there is a risk of encountering a firearm type incident; thus a principle of minimum personal carriage and minimum visibility is applied. Firearm carriage is usually authorised by a commissioned officer. District commanders may also authorise the carriage of approved firearms in police vehicles, where appropriate, to ensure members have ready access to firearms should circumstances
dictate. As part of the initial response, general duty police officers will attend, equipped with arms, pending the arrival of the Armed Offender Squad.
Under Section 62 of the Crimes Act, 1961 a police officer is criminally liable for excessive use of force. By statute, members are prohibited from using firearms save in the following circumstances:
i To defend themselves, or others, if they fear death or grievous bodily harm to themselves or others, and cannot reasonably protect themselves, or others, in a less violent manner.
i To arrest an offender if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that the offender poses a threat of death or grievously bodily harm in resisting arrest and the arrest cannot be reasonably effected in a less violent manner; and the arrest cannot be delayed without danger to others.
i To prevent the escape of an offender if it is believed, on reasonable grounds, that the offender poses a threat of death or grievous bodily harm to any person (whether an identifiable individual or members of the public at large); and he or she takes flight to avoid arrest, or he or she escapes after arrest and such flight or escape cannot reasonably be prevented in a less violent manner.
In each and every case, the offender is not to be shot until called upon to surrender (unless impracticable to do so) and it is clear that he or she cannot be disarmed or arrested without first being shot; and in the circumstances, further delay in apprehending the offender would be dangerous or impracticable.
AOS members are trained to use very clear and distinct warnings which simply say ‘‘Armed police. Put your firearm down now’’. This will be repeated as many times as necessary until there is compliance or until such time as some other overt action is taken. It is not the policy of the New Zealand police to follow up such warnings with a further warning of ‘‘or you will be shot’’.
8. Training — shooting to incapacitate
The New Zealand policy is that when it is necessary to shoot a person, the shots are to be placed to incapacitate that person as quickly as possible and thereby neutralise the threat. Incapacitation is best brought about by shots to the chest area or central mass. It is also the easiest place to hit. There is no policy of shooting to wound.
9. Project Lincoln
Project Lincoln was established to review less lethal technology and related issues in New Zealand. It also included a review of resources such as armoured, protected vehicles for police, police firearms and enhanced differential responses to critical incidents involving dangerous weapons.
Project Lincoln was initiated for two main reasons. First, it was felt that a thorough review of the use of O.C. spray was required to see if it was the most appropriate less lethal option for officers; it had been introduced into the force in 1998 for all front-line officers to carry while on duty. Second, an incident occurred in which a police officer shot a person who was armed with a golf club which led the Commissioner to believe that it was appropriate for the overall response to armed or potentially armed incidents to be reviewed.
In relation to the use of O.C. spray the report analysed its use on 4,186 occasions over a period of 21 months. On some of these occasions it was used on persons with mental disabilities. The report found that the use of O.C. spray is an effective tool in appropriate circumstances and that it is usually effective on persons with mental disabilities. In general, officers are provided with a small canister of O.C. spray which they carry on their belts as a matter of course. Superintendent Matthews told the Tribunal that it is as much a part of their uniform as their handcuffs. If an officer considers that a subject poses a threat to the officer or a member of the public and there is no less violent means available to protect them from that threat, then O.C. spray may be used to provide the necessary protection. Superintendent Matthews was of the view that the New Zealand police use the spray quite liberally, by world standards, because the officers have no ability to fall back on lethal options as they are not armed with firearms. He informed the Tribunal that the effective range of the spray is between one and five metres, with three metres being the most effective and safest range for use. It is released at the subject’s face and results in involuntary closure of the eyes and the subject feeling overwhelmed, as a consequence of which they will normally be unable to take any offensive action. In these circumstances the officer may then approach the person and secure the situation. The only decontamination that is required with O.C. spray is the application of water to clear the eyes. The spray is not designed to deal with armed subjects.
Superintendent Matthews told the Tribunal that it is his view that ‘‘there is no less lethal weapon that is designed to be used against an offender carrying a lethal option, firearm’’.
Project Lincoln considered the use of 42 less lethal weapon options that could be available to the police. The report concluded that five of these were worthy of further consideration by the Commissioner, namely O.C. spray, the Taser, the drag stabilised beanbag or sock round, encapsulated rounds (similar to a paintball gun that can fire little ball-bearings filled with O.C. or some other substance) and large capacity O.C. sprays for use by tactical groups to debilitate more than one offender at a time.
Project Lincoln also considered the use of Armoured Protected Vehicles. These are used more in relation to recovery operation (perhaps of persons injured close to the scene) than as a less lethal option. They provide protection for officers to enable them to move closer to the scene and to provide a rescue and/or recovery capability. Such vehicles may have other potential uses such as acting as a means to move negotiators closer to the subject (depending of course on the specific capability of the vehicle).
As at May, 2004, at the time of giving evidence, the O.C. spray and the AOS rated dog unit were the only less lethal options actually in use within the New Zealand police force.
10. Call out and deployment to an incident involving firearms
The response to an incident involving, or potentially involving firearms, will depend on the severity of the incident and may involve any or all of the following:
i Unarmed police response;
i Armed, general duties police response; i Armed Offender Squad response; and/or i Special Tactics Group response.
It is important to note that this is not a continuum of response. Where a firearm is suspected the usual response is initially for armed, general duties officers to respond, to cordon and contain while waiting the arrival of the Armed Offender Squad.
All incidents reported to the police go to one of three call communication centres. There is a set procedure to follow when taking the call. The person receiving the call must take all applicable information, especially the number and the type of firearms, any injuries, details of a safe approach point and rendezvous point. This is assisted by the use of a computerised checklist.
The communications centre will take initial command of the incident until local command is established. If a firearm is involved the call taker will automatically notify his or her supervisor. The supervisor then contacts the Armed Offender Squad supervisor in that area. The AOS supervisor, based on the advice given, will activate the AOS or decide that it is not a case for the AOS. However, in circumstances where the incident involves, or potentially involves, a firearm, the AOS will be deployed. For safety and tactical effectiveness AOS squads should have a minimum of 12 members. However this does not always prove practical, with some smaller squads having only eight members and some larger squads having 25. The recommended minimum number of 12 excludes any police negotiation team members and AOS rated dog handlers. The local fire brigade and ambulance services are also alerted.
In circumstances where the situation is beyond the capability of the AOS to provide a tactical resolution, the Special Tactics Group will be called out. Such instances include hostage situations or circumstances where there are multiple subjects with high-powered weaponry. However, the Special Tactics Group have been deployed to domestic sieges where the need is warranted. A decision to call in the Special Tactics Group is based on a consideration of the tactical resolutions necessary to achieve a peaceful outcome. Superintendent Matthews explained that it is the ‘‘tactical resolution of that incident and how that is going to be achieved, which is the issue’’. The Special Tactics Group is primarily an assault body as opposed to a containing body. If the Special Tactics Group is activated, the AOS remain and are
responsible for maintaining inner cordon duties. The Special Tactics Group then gather and plan tactically to resolve the situation ‘‘usually by an assault on the stronghold’’. Assault on a stronghold requires the authority of the Deputy Commissioner Operations. If he or she is unavailable, the authority of an assistant commissioner is required. Having Special Tactics Group and AOS officers together at an incident occurs probably no more than once or twice a year.
The AOS in conjunction with a Police Negotiation Team resolve most of the critical incidents involving firearms without the participation of the Special Tactics Group. It is now almost automatic that PNT will be called out as part of the AOS response. Any situation where there is a person in a location requiring some form of communication will result in the PNT being called out.
In New Zealand, the AOS are trained in ‘‘voice appeal’’ techniques. This enables them to communicate with the offender in the absence of the negotiation team, and to undertake rudimentary negotiations. Voice appeal techniques essentially are those which enable the AOS to make it known to the person in the house that there are armed police surrounding the property and that it is in their best interests to put down their firearm and to come out in a manner that is appropriate to the AOS arrest procedures. The AOS may also be used to inform the offender of actions he or she must take when surrendering; this may be done by way of a loudhailer. This is not viewed as a negotiation capability within the AOS, but as a means of informing the subject what the police intend to achieve and why they are at the scene.
The Armed Offender Squad also operates in conjunction with AOS rated police dogs. It is policy to call out AOS dog teams to all armed incidents. These dogs are trained to deal with armed offenders and are used extensively to resolve such incidents.
If the incident is minor in nature and does not involve a siege type situation, the AOS commander may take charge of the entire operation. If, however, the situation is in the nature of a siege, the New Zealand police are moving towards a command model where the AOS commander will be solely responsible for the inner cordon and an operation commander will be appointed separately to command the overall operation. In areas such as Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, the AOS commander may hold the rank of inspector. An operation commander may in some circumstances be a non-commissioned officer, depending on the availability of members. A larger operation would invariably come under the command of an inspector and in rare circumstances, a superintendent.
In an incident, such as that at Abbeylara, the AOS would have been automatically deployed together with a Police Negotiation Team and an AOS rated dog team.
11. The principles of dealing with an armed incident
In New Zealand, the overriding principle in dealing with an armed offender is the principle of ‘‘cordon, contain and negotiate’’ for as long as is necessary or possible, to bring about a peaceful resolution.
The applicable principles to be used when dealing with an armed offender are contained in a ‘‘Manual of Best Practice’’. However, Superintendent Matthews emphasised that each incident is different, with its own dynamic, and that commanders are required to modify their approach depending on the circumstances. Command of incidents is more of an art than an exact science, he told the Tribunal, and the experience of the commander plays a large part in determining the outcome.
The Manual states that when dealing with an armed offender:
i ‘‘It is better to take the matter too seriously than too lightly;
i Treat all armed suspects or suspects believed to be armed as dangerous and hostile unless you have definite evidence to the contrary’’.
The Manual also states that ‘‘caution is not cowardice’’. According to Superintendent Matthews, this highlights the conservative approach that the New Zealand police take to armed offenders. Thus, rather than satisfying themselves that the person is armed, the officer is required to satisfy himself that the person is not armed; police should never go unnecessarily into danger. However, if the suspect is acting in a way that makes casualties likely, the police must take immediate action to prevent this. Any force used should be the minimum necessary to achieve the objective, and be reasonable in the circumstances.
The officer commanding the scene must determine what is known as a ‘‘safe arrival point’’, and establish an outer cordon manned by uniformed staff. The safe arrival point will not be visible to the offender and will not be in close proximity to the scene. The police will not directly approach the stronghold. Superintendent Matthews told the Tribunal that it has been a long established practice, as a result of two police officers being shot and killed in the early 1 960s, that officers do not park outside an address if there is any concern; rather, they park away and approach on foot. On arrival, the AOS will set up a mobile command post inside the outer cordon and establish an inner cordon which they will maintain and control. Only AOS or Police Negotiation Team personnel, or others specifically authorised by the office of commander of the AOS, may operate within the inner cordon. Persons operating in the inner cordon must be logged and accompanied at all times by an AOS member. The outer cordon may or may not be armed, depending on the circumstances; its role is to keep people from entering the scene. The inner cordon is invariably armed and serves to contain the subject.
In most scenarios the operation commander will establish a command post somewhere between the inner and outer cordon. It is distinct and separate from the AOS command post. The operation commander will approve a tactical plan. However, the principles of ‘‘cordon, contain and negotiate’’ are given the utmost priority — together with the requirement to evacuate the area as appropriate.
A direct assault on the stronghold will not be contemplated unless life is at risk and there is no alternative. If direct assault is a possibility, the Special Tactics Group is activated (as discussed above).
The AOS commander prepares action plans to provide for eventualities such as surrender; the offender attempting to leave the inner cordon; the offender firing on police; stronghold clearance after the surrender, and suicide within the stronghold. The operation commander must approve any such plans. The plans may be verbal but are usually written down in a brief format. The operation commander will commence a written log on arrival which would be taken over by the AOS on their arrival and carried on by them until the incident was resolved. The AOS have a dedicated log keeper available to them.
In New Zealand a negotiation team will be placed close to, but separate from, the AOS command centre, in a house, police vehicle or other suitable accommodation. This facilitates direct communication between the negotiation team and the AOS commander, allowing for immediacy in the relaying of information from one to the other. Intelligence gained by the negotiation team while dealing with the subject is automatically passed to the AOS and operation commander. No negotiations are attempted until the AOS inner cordon is established.
A high priority of any negotiated incident is for the negotiator to establish communication with the subject through a dedicated telephone link. In New Zealand, there is a policy of isolating the subject from the outside world, especially in relation to communications. If the subject has access to a landline it will be captured to ensure that the only communication that he or she can have is with the police negotiator. Similar action will be taken in respect of a cellphone with necessary technical measures being carried out by the telephone service provider at the request of the police. If these forms of communication are not possible, the insertion of a direct hard-line telephone link, or field phone, will be attempted. All of these methods require some co-operation from the subject. If there is no co-operation forthcoming they must revert to reliance on a loudhailer, or what has been developed in New Zealand as a loudspeaker system which is easier to use and a little more powerful than a straightforward loud hailer. One of the disadvantages of the loud hailer system is that there is little opportunity for spontaneous conversation between the two parties. Further, it may be difficult to hear any responses from the subject. It also may place the PNT members within the inner cordon and may therefore place them at risk. In such circumstances the PNT usually would not be permitted within the inner cordon, and the loudhailer would be utilised by a member of the AOS in a ‘‘voice appeal’’ role.
Superintendent Matthews told the Tribunal that the New Zealand police have never allowed face to face negotiations as part of the resolution of a critical incident as it places whoever is doing the face to face negotiations at an unacceptable risk from the offender. The New Zealand police force operate a doctrine of ‘‘maximising safety and minimising risk’’.
There are no fixed or firm rules in respect of the length of time that a negotiation team should continue to operate and remain on duty at an incident. One of the first
considerations of the operation commander is the relief of staff. That applies to all members of the PNT and AOS. After eight hours, they will look to bring in other resources to relieve the members on the ground. At the twelve hour mark ‘‘we would certainly be replacing both AOS — PNT’’, Superintendent Matthews told the Tribunal. Issues such as the amount of rapport built up between the negotiator and the subject will always influence the decision. The operation commander ultimately makes the decision to change the negotiator, based on the advice of the negotiation supervisor.
13. Use of Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs)
As a general rule, the New Zealand police do not use TPIs to communicate with subjects mainly because there is little control over what they may say and the police do not know how the subject may react to the third party. As TPIs have no training in negotiations they may unwittingly inflame the situation by saying the wrong thing. However, Superintendent Matthews was of the opinion that notwithstanding this caveat, it has become more acceptable to utilise third parties if it is considered that they may assist in the resolution of the incident. He told the Tribunal that an operation commander may give careful consideration to their use especially in circumstances where the subject has a mental illness, as the use of persons known to the subject may be beneficial. However, the safety of the TPI is a priority and they will not communicate from within the inner cordon on a loudhailer, especially if that is a point that has come under fire from the subject. Therefore, unless the TPI can communicate from an area that does not involve such risk, which invariably will involve the use of a dedicated phone line, it is unlikely that they will be used.
The PNT supervisor will speak with the proposed TPI to ensure that the parameters of the conversation are very clearly laid out.
14. Intelligence gathering
The primary purpose of intelligence gathering is to assist the operation commander and others in dealing with the incident from a tactical perspective. On arrival at the scene, initial responders will speak with family, associates and neighbours in an attempt to gather as much information about the incident, the firearms involved, the state of the subject’s mind and other relevant factors.
If a police psychologist is available to the operation commander he or she will be requested to attend the scene. The operation commander will consider the need to speak to a subject’s treating psychiatrist as a high priority in circumstances where information in relation to a mental illness comes to light. The police psychologist is considered to be a helpful conduit for this sort of information.
15. The subject exits the stronghold
Superintendent Matthews was asked how the New Zealand police would respond to a subject exiting the stronghold with a shotgun broken open in circumstances where there was an inner cordon in place around the house. He told the Tribunal
that the first thing that would happen is a repeated appeal from the AOS to the subject: ‘‘armed police, put the firearm down now, armed police, put the firearm down now.’’ AOS rated dogs would be at the scene ready to be deployed. If there was no response to the above appeal, very quickly after the subject had left the house, two dogs would be released by way of a ‘‘two dog attack’’ from different directions in the hope of resolving the situation without recourse to other tactics.
Superintendent Matthews said that, if such dog units did not exist within the New Zealand police, the only means of resolving the incident that would be open and available to them is lethal force. Officers in New Zealand are trained to continually assess the situation and to determine the varying levels of threat. A decision by an officer to use lethal force is an individual decision and is not dependent on any other officer.
Superintendent Matthews also told the Tribunal that in New Zealand an offender is not allowed to leave the inner cordon because to do so ‘‘places a whole lot of other people at risk’’. The tactic of ‘‘moving containment/moving cordon’’ is not used. It is considered to give rise to a risk of crossfire and to place officers at unnecessary risk:
‘‘The other principle that would concern me in respect of the moving cordon is once you have started the moving cordon, where do you stop? So no, we don’t train it and we don’t employ it’’.
There are approximately 30 Armed Offender Squad rated dogs in the New Zealand police force. The dog units train with the AOS on a regular basis. All dog handlers have undergone the full training for every AOS member and the dogs have gone through particular training — over and above the training given to a general duties dog — to ensure that they are capable of dealing with somebody who is armed with a firearm. Accepting that there is always a degree of unpredictability associated with the use of dogs, Superintendent Matthews stated that in his experience the dogs are extremely focused provided the dog handler sets them up correctly and ensures that the dog knows who is the offender to attack. If the inner cordon has been properly controlled then there should be no extraneous people or other things to distract the dog or interfere with the deployment of a dog as a tactical solution. In Superintendent Matthew’s experience the subject would not have to be fleeing or behaving in an erratic way for the dog to attack provided the above conditions are in place. Tactical police dogs of that sort have been trained in New Zealand for the past 20 years.
17. Media officers
The New Zealand police have designated media relation officers. In any incident that might attract media interest such an officer is deployed and forms part of the operation command. He or she will facilitate any reasonable needs of the media and will organise press conferences at appropriate intervals. Press conferences are usually fronted by the operation commander or the second in command. Any statements that are given to the media will usually be prepared by the media officer and
approved by the operation commander. In a prolonged siege, negotiators may have an input into the content of such a statement if they believe it may further the negotiation effort in some way. The media is not permitted inside the inner cordon but may, in certain circumstances, be allowed within the outer cordon. ‘‘We find it easier to manage the media than not manage them,’’ Superintendent Matthews explained.
18. Exclusion zone
As in Victoria, the New Zealand police may place an exclusion zone around a particular critical incident site. This exclusion zone may apply to aircraft or helicopters. In such circumstances it will be established in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority and there are sanctions for breach of the order.
19. Mental health professionals
In the past, the police have employed full-time medical doctors and full-time psychologists who were primarily responsible for any internal medical or psychological issues that arose within the police force. However, the psychologists were used on occasion to provide profiles of offenders and to give advice to the Police Negotiation Team on the likely reactions of an offender to a particular tactic. They were also involved in training exercises in this regard. Though the role of the psychologist was viewed, over time, as a benefit to a tactical commander in the resolution of incidents, resource issues brought about a change. Cost analysis showed that it was more cost-effective to buy whatever expertise was required on the open market, rather than to retain persons with such qualifications within the organisation. In New Zealand, it has not generally been a requirement to call in the assistance of a psychiatrist or psychologist in dealing with incidents. The last full-time psychologist left the New Zealand police force in 2003. Superintendent Matthews told the Tribunal that his understanding of the current position is that there are a number of psychologists in private practice who may be called upon, if necessary, for use internally or for use in a tactical situation, but that their deployment as a tactical option for a commander at the scene of an incident has not been developed further since the last full-time psychologist left the force.
Superintendent Matthews was familiar with the Crisis Assessment Treatment Teams that operate in Victoria, Australia. The New Zealand health services have also developed a similar response to the treatment of persons with mental illness in the community. As in Victoria, this was initiated by way of response to the move to de-institutionalise many persons with mental illness. The New Zealand teams may attend incidents with the police or they may attend on their own. Police officers will usually be requested to attend where there is a concern that the person may be violent. The use of a crisis assessment treatment team in a firearms incident had not been developed within the New Zealand police force as at May, 2004. ‘‘That is not to say it is not a good idea,’’ he told the Tribunal, ‘‘it is just something we have not currently addressed’’.
SECTION C: — Canada
1. Mr. Robert Leatherdale
Mr. Robert Leatherdale is a former assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He joined the RCMP in 1962 and thereafter gained varied investigational experience in municipal, provincial and federal areas of responsibility. He progressed through the force in rank and responsibility in areas such as general investigation, commercial crime, drug enforcement, policing for aboriginal communities and a variety of criminal investigations.
He was in charge of a number of detachments before being commissioned as Inspector to Officer Commanding Labrador Sub-division at Goose Bay, Labrador. This was a three-year posting with administrative and operational responsibility for eight remote and isolated detachments and three support services, the most critical of these being air services, as travel to all detachments and outposts was almost exclusively by air. Another major responsibility which he had was ongoing liaison with military air forces from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and West Germany.
In 1985 he was transferred to Red Deer, Alberta as Assistant Officer Commanding, holding the rank of inspector. This entailed having responsibility for operations in a sub-division that stretched from British Columbia to Saskatchewan incorporating the central portion of the province and having over 400 employees. He was responsible for large support units such as drugs, general investigation, national crime intelligence and the federal unit, all of which conducted sensitive, high profile and undercover operations. In 1985, he also underwent a commander course and a hostage/ barricaded persons course in the Canadian Police College in Ottawa. Mr. Leatherdale was Operations Commander for the Emergency Response Team located in Red Deer. The Emergency Response Team is, in Canadian terms, broadly equivalent to the Emergency Response Unit in Ireland. He held that position for approximately five years.
He was the lead venue commander for security at Calgary airport during the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 as well as being the co-commander for the opening and closing ceremonies. He was the alternate commander for the Emergency Response Team for the Olympic contingent in Calgary.
He was promoted to the rank of Superintendent, Officer Commanding of the Peace River Subdivision in 1990. This is the northwest portion of Alberta from Beaverlodge and Grande Prairie on the west to the North West Territories in the north.
He was promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent in 1993 and assumed the position of Officer In Charge of criminal operations for the province of Saskatchewan in that year. This involved responsibility for the overall management of all aspects of operational issues within the RCMP jurisdiction in the province.
Mr. Leatherdale represented the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1994 as part of the review of the ‘‘Use of Force’’ by the Victoria Police in Melbourne, Australia. Mr. Leatherdale is the co-author of a report which, with other input, ultimately led to the retraining of the majority of members of the Victoria Police in the use of force and firearms. This review was part of the preliminary work that led to the introduction of Project Beacon, which is dealt with in detail in the evidence of Mr. Shuey. In 1997 he was promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner with responsibility for the Major Case Management Task Force (discussed below) which he managed from 1997 to 2000. Mr. Leatherdale retired from the RCMP in June, 2000.
2. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
The RCMP is the Canadian National Police service. It is unique in the world in that it is a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides a total federal policing service to all Canadians and policing services under contract to three territories, eight provinces, 198 municipalities and, under 1 72 individual agreements, to 192 First Nation Communities. In short, aside from Ontario and Quebec (which have their own provincial police forces) the RCMP is in effect the provincial policing service for Canada. However, the RCMP has the responsibility for enforcing federal statutes in all states, including Ontario and Quebec. The RCMP is headed by a Commissioner who is under the direction of the Solicitor General of Canada.
In 1996 the RCMP moved towards a more regional management system under the direction of deputy commissioners. Four new regions were developed — Pacific, Northwestern, Central and Atlantic — to ensure greater grass-roots involvement in decision making and to allow more investment in front-line services. The force is divided into 1 5 divisions with its headquarters in Ottawa. As at May, 2001, the force was 20,866 in number. There is one commissioner, seven deputy commissioners and 23 assistant commissioners. Chief superintendents (of which there are 52) have operational responsibility for their divisions and superintendents (of which there are 122) have geographical responsibility for their relevant subdivisions. A superintendent of a sub-division equates, broadly speaking, with a superintendent or district officer in Ireland.
The RCMP is an armed police force.
3. Major Case Management Task Force (MCMTF)
In 1997, Mr. Leatherdale was appointed by the Commissioner of the RCMP to form and manage a task force to evaluate the ‘‘state of readiness’’ of the RCMP. Its brief was to review the RCMP’s approach to managing a major or critical incident, including command, negotiation and emergency response. The task force was called the Major Case Management Task Force or MCMTF. It was established in response to a request by the then Commissioner Mr. Philip Murray, following an incident which took place in British Columbia, involving a major confrontation between police and an aboriginal group over rights to perform traditional ceremonies on privately
owned land. Some 16 emergency response teams were engaged in the confrontation over the course of a number of months culminating in an exchange of gunfire between the aboriginal group and the police. The RCMP had encountered problems in obtaining required resources and difficulties were encountered in attempts to carry out negotiations. The Commissioner thought that a review of the state of readiness of the RCMP was required to assess whether the policies that were in place and the abilities and skills of the members were adequate to deal with what they were presently being confronted with and what they might be confronted with in the future.
The MCMTF examined best practices then in existence within and external to the force. They assessed the strengths and weaknesses of their existing contingency plans, available resources (both material and human), and conducted a complete review of recent major incidents, existing contingency planning apparatus, methods of operation and organisational structure. As part of the brief, Mr. Leatherdale researched best practice in other police forces in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the United States and Canada and liaised with various experts in the relevant fields.
Following the publication of the task force report a permanent group was immediately established to implement its recommendations. This group is still in existence and continues to implement and update the work of the task force; the state of readiness of the RCMP is seen as a ‘‘constant evolution’’. Many of the recommendations relate to the administration, training, information management and operations of the RCMP’s critical incident responders who are identified as incident commanders, negotiators, major crime investigators and emergency response teams.
Mr. Leatherdale emphasised that one of the goals of the MCMTF was to disseminate the information on the role of the task force to all those interested in its work. A copy of the task force report was sent to all police forces that were contacted in relation to the work of the task force so that its benefits might be considered in a wider context. Mr. Leatherdale stressed the need for ‘‘a spirit of continuous learning’’.
4. Emergency Response Teams
An Emergency Response Team of the RCMP is comprised of an assault group, a sniper group (used primarily as an intelligence gathering source), negotiators, a dog master and dog and a technical person (proficient in intercepting or cutting telephone wires and the use of field phones and other such equipment). All the members of the Emergency Response Team are police officers who are ordinarily engaged in other functions, either plain-clothes or uniformed police duties. They operate on an on-duty pager system.
An incident commander has overall responsibility for an Emergency Response Team. The most senior member of the team is likely to be the team leader at an incident. The nomenclature of ‘‘gold, silver and bronze’’ for levels of command is not recognised in Canada. However, for ease of reference Mr. Leatherdale described the incident commander as being the equivalent of a gold commander with the team
leader being the equivalent of a silver commander. A bronze commander may be the senior sniper or the assault group leader. It is important to note that such command positions are not designated according to the rank of the officer but are reflective of their roles within the team. In this regard, the command structure of an incident in Canada is role based and not rank based; suitability, more than rank, is the determining factor.
5. Call out/deployment of the Emergency Response Team
When a call reporting a critical incident is received, it is up to the operations commander to decide whether the Emergency Response Team should be deployed to the scene. The request to deploy an Emergency Response Team usually comes from a superintendent of the relevant sub-division, but Mr. Leatherdale told the Tribunal that rank was not a consideration and that the request could come from ranks of a lower level. It was preferable, he noted, if the request came through the local rank structure as this provided for some form of filtering or assessment.
Ideally, there are twelve members in an Emergency Response Team. However, not all people are available on every occasion. If an appropriate number is not available another Emergency Response Team is deployed. Normally, the incident commander goes ahead of the team to the incident. The team members gather at sub-division headquarters to collect appropriate attire and equipment before proceeding to the incident.
On arrival, the incident commander and/or the team leader will meet the local unit commander or the person who is in charge of the situation on-site for a full briefing. Overall command of an emergency response incident rests with the incident commander.
6. Command and control: isolation and containment
Immediately on arrival, the Emergency Response Team establishes a cordon around the site. Also, it is responsible for the establishment of a command post. As the majority of the Emergency Response Team’s call-outs are rural the command post may be a nearby barn, the back of a car or even a car seat, depending on what is available; ‘‘you don’t always have an ideal situation’’, Mr. Leatherdale reminded the Tribunal. In certain areas such as Edmonton and Calgary, the police have specially designed vehicles which may be utilised as command posts but they are more likely to be utilised for negotiations and telecommunications.
From the moment of arrival at the incident, the Emergency Response Team assumes command of the situation and the local personnel ‘‘back off’’. Local personnel become a resource and are available to the Emergency Response Team to assist in any peripheral issues such as intelligence and information gathering. Overall responsibility for the tactical and negotiation element of the incident resides with the Emergency Response Team.
The team leader of the Emergency Response Team puts together an immediate action plan and, from there, a further plan is developed as to how the incident may be resolved; such plans may be developed in conjunction with the incident commander who must ultimately approve and sign off on every plan. Therefore, it is the role of the incident commander to assess the incident priorities, determine the incident’s strategic goals and tactical objectives and develop and/or implement an action plan. Also, he or she develops an incident command structure appropriate to the incident and assesses and deploys the resources needed. The incident commander is responsible for coordinating overall emergency activity, coordinating with outside agencies and making information releases available to the media. He or she will also serve as the ultimate safety officer at the scene.
The MCMTF established operating guidelines to ensure high quality command during a critical incident. These guidelines ensure that when an incident occurs the incident commander and relief incident commander are identified and that the relief incident commander takes over the duties after a period of 8 to 12 hours. Following an incident, the incident commander will participate in operational and critical incident stress debriefing.
The objective of the RCMP in barricaded incidents is to achieve a negotiated resolution.
Negotiators would probably be armed in Canada as all officers carry arms, but, in Mr. Leatherdale’s experience, negotiators would remain outside the inner cordon and would not be at risk. Consequently, they would not be in a position where they may find themselves having to draw their weapons.
An aide-me´moire, in the form of a handbook prepared by a psychologist associated with the Canadian Police College, is a resource that negotiators are encouraged to bring to the scene of any incident. It serves as a valuable checklist for the negotiator.
8. Intelligence gathering
As mentioned above, the role of information and intelligence gathering is usually delegated to local officers as they ‘‘know the people that are involved — at least they would probably know them better than us and they certainly know the community and the feelings in the community and all those things that you have to take into account’’, Mr. Leatherdale explained.
9. Log keeping and the written plans
All information and activities are logged. One person is designated as being responsible for this function. Such a person may be the secondary negotiator — ‘‘if we were fortunate enough to have one’’ — or a technical person. They would have a flip chart somewhere in the command post, preferably next to the negotiator. This will also be in view of the commander so that he or she is in a position to outline
and highlight some of the developments and the decisions made. Certain individuals are expected to keep personal notes. The information that is required to be documented, or logged, is information relating to occurrences at the scene, developments that are taking place and plans that are made. Although much of an incident may be taped, particularly telephone and radio communications, there is an emphasis on the requirement for written documentation of what is happening at the scene.
The immediate action plan, designed at the outset by the tactical aspect of the Emergency Response Team, must be signed off by the incident commander before it is implemented. The same procedure occurs in relation to other plans formulated throughout the incident or regarding any alteration made to the immediate action plan. Actions therefore are documented and accountability arises.
10. Mental health professionals
Mr. Leatherdale told the Tribunal that there are no standing arrangements between the RCMP and public or private health services in relation to the attendance of mental health professionals at an incident. He stated that if such a person were considered to be of assistance at an incident then it would be the responsibility of the incident commander to call them to the scene. The RCMP does have psychologists attached to their health service directorate but they are exclusively for such matters as psychological debriefings and do not engage in on-site duties at an incident.
11. Use of force
Questioned on whether a ‘‘line in the sand’’ approach was adopted by the RCMP in relation to a subject breaching a police cordon, he replied that ‘‘philosophically speaking, the line in the sand is probably there. It is crossed, I suppose, when the police officer’s life is put in danger or another individual’s life is put in danger or where there becomes a danger to someone in the area, which cannot be stopped another way’’.
There is no standard warning procedure adopted by the RCMP when the use of force is to be used, but Mr. Leatherdale explained that the use of deadly force would undoubtedly be preceded by warnings to drop a weapon or to stop or to surrender, or something of that nature.
Mr. Leatherdale told the Tribunal that the decision to use lethal force is an individual decision for each officer.
12. The Media
In major incidents a media relations officer is appointed to liaise with the media. Mr. Leatherdale explained that information is usually released to the media that may be helpful to them but which will not interfere with the incident itself; it is disseminated to them in a controlled and managed fashion.
Much of the training undertaken by members in the Canadian Police College is by way of computer-based simulation which allows those in command roles to explore complex issues associated with critical decision making in crisis situations. The situational stimuli occur in real time and have real-time consequences as well as the automatic triggering of subsequent actions based on prior decisions or in some instances, the failure to make decisions.
By way of example, Mr. Leatherdale explained that one of the many tasks that must be dealt with in a major crisis is the media. Should the commander not take steps to address this issue at the appropriate time, the computer will simulate a major incident involving the media that will affect not only his or her command, but will adversely affect other units such as the negotiator and the Emergency Response Team personnel. The further benefit of such computer simulated training is that it allows for constant refresher courses without the associated cost of running large-scale practical on the ground exercises on a regular basis. However, it was acknowledged that the start-up costs of such a ‘‘virtual training’’ training environment may be significant. Members are selected for training based on their skills and experience rather than their rank. The selection, administration, training and mentoring of commanders and negotiators is overseen by a National Co-ordinator.
Certain criteria have been established for selection of an incident commander. First, the member must want to participate at this level; secondly, he or she must have no physical or mental health restrictions (psychological assessments are carried out); thirdly, he or she must have appropriate experience with incidents, prior training, self-study or have participated in a mentoring programme; and finally, the agreement of the Criminal Operations Officer is required before the member may be put forward for selection.
Incident commanders are categorised and trained as either Level I divisional commanders with responsibility for such incidents as hostage or barricaded incidents or Level II national commanders who are responsible for major incidents such as air crashes or national disasters. The MCMTF identified in particular the need for a mentoring programme for incident commanders. Such a mentoring programme envisaged a Level II commander (i.e., a commander who is utilised for an incident other than a local incident, such as a major airline crash or hostage incident) requesting that another Level II commander be brought in to observe the operation at a high level. By so doing, the second commander gains experience in how to run such an incident. Mr. Leatherdale described such a person as being in the role of an ‘‘understudy’’. This was especially valuable if a trained Level II commander had not had an opportunity to be involved in such an incident before.
The MCMTF noted that there were no national standards or programmes for negotiators and therefore developed administrative initiatives such as national standards for negotiators, selection procedures, national coordination and refresher courses. An audit or ‘‘skills inventory’’ was carried out of existing negotiators. A crisis negotiators refresher course was established to standardise the skills and training of
all negotiators. An important focus of this training was to ensure that criteria were developed so that only suitable personnel were selected to train as negotiators, and that, after initial training, these would be exposed to further training on a regular basis to refresh their skills.
Emergency Response Team training focuses primarily on shooting and activities surrounding tactical entry. Such training takes place at least once a month. However, at least once a year a full training seminar takes place where all members of the team, including negotiators, are involved in decision-making and training scenarios.
The RCMP incident management intervention model is another valuable resource in training first responders to an incident such as occurred at Abbeylara. Mr. Leatherdale described it as one of the ‘‘core building blocks’’ in training given to cadets or trainee officers in the Training Academy. This model focuses on training the cadets to choose the appropriate means of intervention in any given incident by assessing the level of risk to the public and themselves and the potential for preventing or reducing it through a range of tactical options. At the core of this training model is the overriding principle of officer safety: ‘‘The role of the police in an intervention is to ensure that the public is safe. Police safety is essential to public safety. If harm comes to the police officer, they will not be able to help others.’’
A member is not trained to view options in a linear way, starting at the least lethal and working their way up. Instead, a range of options is considered based on the subject’s behaviour and the situational factors viewed in their totality. The member must assess the risk and select the best option in an attempt to control the situation as quickly as possible. Risk assessment is stressed as being a continuous process for each officer during the course of an incident. Such decisions are often difficult to make, Mr. Leatherdale explained; the more adept the officer is at assessing risk the more readily and appropriately he or she will respond under operational circumstances.
Officers are taught that for the use of force or intervention to be justified the following criteria must be considered:
i. ‘‘Did the subject have or reasonably appear to have the ability to behave as the officer perceived?
ii. Did the subject demonstrate intent. Did words and/or actions lead you to believe that the subject had the intent to behave as perceived?
iii. Did the subject have the means to demonstrate or deliver the perceived behaviour?’’