PMO interferes with standard RCMP procedure in High River

Julian Wolfe
June 29th, 2013

The Alberta floods weren’t without its controversy – from a PMO that tends to get itself deeper into problems every time it acts on something. The PMO ordered the RCMP return guns that officers took from the abandoned homes of High River as a standard safety procedure to prevent crimes in the wake of disaster.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel told CBC’s Power and Politics the Conservatives were intent on protecting the residents’ property, justifying the PMO’s statement earlier today.

“If any firearms were taken, we expect they will be returned to their owners as soon as possible,” the statement said. “We believe the RCMP should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.”

But how does not temporarily removing revealed fire arms protect lives and private property? You don’t need to be a sociologist to understand that there are people who take advantage of tragedies and loot abandoned homes and establishments. As a result, guns that aren’t locked away are there for the theft and use to invade upon other individuals to steal their private property and commit whatever crimes they would need to commit to further their personal gain.

The RCMP justified taking the weapons as a matter of public safety while searching for victims.

“When RCMP officers were going door-to-door searching each residence for potential victims, we did come across a couple of residences where there were some firearms that were left insecure,” Cpl. Darrin Turnbull said.

“In those situations, when they were out in plain view and they were not properly secured and stored, those firearms were taken by the RCMP member and safely secured in the High River detachment.”

The guns were not permanently taken away from the victims, they were placed somewhere the looters can’t get to them. While those who prefer their individual freedom and not have the RCMP or any authority taking property without their consent are clearly upset about the safeguarding, in times of disaster it is better to have the property temporarily brought to a safe place than let unknown looters take the items forever and use them to take more items from other individuals without their consent – which would be defined as theft, a crime is it not?

“The RCMP were not searching houses looking for firearms. The RCMP were going into homes looking for victims. If while we were in that home looking for victims there was an unsecured firearm that was out in the open, we had to take that firearm to make sure it was safe.”

RCMP Isp. Gerret Woolsey said at a municipal and provincial gathering of officials that hundreds of guns were seized over the past several days. He noted people tried to move their guns and other property to higher grounds because of the floods.

Woolsey said the guns would be returned to their rightful owners once they are allowed to return to their homes as long as the guns are legal. He added that in “unlikely event” that an illegal firearm was found, the public prosecutor would be informed but otherwise, “in the vast majority of cases — I hope in all the cases — we are going to return these firearms to their owners as soon as possible.”

“It’s no different than Slave Lake, to seize firearms or to secure firearms that are in plain view, “Woolsey noted, referring to 2011’s fire in the community.

While the PMO showed the extent they wish to interfere with the RCMP and with independent law enforcement matters, Alberta’s Premier Alison Redford sided with the RCMP but wouldn’t comment on the PMO’s statement.

“There is no suggestion that people will not be able to have their guns back again, and I really hope that we can focus on more important matters at hand, like getting 12,000 people back into High River than continue to circulate this story,” she said.

However, the PMO does have one ally, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association said seizing the guns “breached and sullied [the RCMP’s] contract with the public to serve and protect.”

“This act of aggression is further proof that the RCMP have a not-so-hidden agenda to take guns away from responsible gun owners.”

However, this wasn’t an act to seize property, it was an act to look for victims and help them if they are trapped or injured. Neglecting exposed firearms allows criminals to threaten other individuals and their public property which would essentially go against the RCMP’s “contract with the public to serve and protect.” The RCMP already said it was just safeguarding the weapons to ensure the disaster zone remains safe – and so do the guns.

The RCMP offered this same common sense explanation in response to the outcry.

“The last thing any gun owner wants is to have their guns fall into the wrong hands. Residents of High River can be assured that firearms now in possession of the RCMP are in safe hands, and will be returned to them as soon as is practically possible,” said assistant commissioner Marianne Ryan, criminal operations, K Division RCMP. “Gun owners will also be provided the option of having the RCMP keep the guns until they are able to store them safely.”

Do you think the PMO was right to interfere with the RCMP’s standard protocol in a disaster where rules and order degenerate until things return to normal?

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   Categories: Alberta, Crime, Political Interference, Public Safety, RCMP


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