Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive June  8, 2014)


By Bob Cooper

Watching the news coverage of the murder of 3 Mounties and the wounding of 2 others in Moncton, NB, 3 days ago I experienced the same sense of loss that all of us, active or retired, feel every time this happens.  The surrealism of the 24 hours news cycle will be followed by the usual parade of pundits, saying the usual buzzwords and telling us that we have to have a Ďconversationí in order to make sense of this and prevent it from happening again.  Thatís when I usually switch it off because as we all know, there is no sense to be made of this.  Itís the irrational act of a warped individual.  Period.  

One characteristic of horrible events like this is that tragedy has an odd way of bringing out the best in people and that came through very clearly in Moncton.   

Despite the fact that they werenít sufficiently armed to deal with a job like this, these cops, like cops the world over, drove straight into the situation.  There was no time to wait for the Emergency guys because the public was in imminent danger and they held true to their oath to do their duty and protect them no matter what.  The killer knew this and took advantage of it, lying in wait and ambushing them making his deeds even more loathsome. 

The news media appeared to behave in an outstanding fashion and I have some expertise in that area.  They never lost sight of the dreadful nature of the events they were covering and demonstrated sensitivity and respect to both the RCMP and the citizens of Moncton.  They were also mindful of the need to avoid broadcasting certain police activity and locations and appeared to accede to every reasonable request the police made. 

In contrast, are the outside special interest groups that canít wait to exploit a tragedy to advance their agenda and Iíve been very critical of the anti-gun lobby for this in the past.  In this case while the hunt for the killer was still going on, the National Firearms Association released a statement that, while deploring the murders, offered them up as proof of the ineffectiveness of Canadaís gun laws.  Despite the fact that I happen to agree with them on many issues Iím nothing if not fair.  This was neither the time nor the place and they should have known better.  

The manhunt lasted 33 hours.  To those who have never been involved in a major operation like this, 33 hours doesnít sound like a long time.  When youíre in the middle of it and you know that this guy could jump out of a bush or be around the next corner, a minute seems like eternity.  Whether youíre actively searching or manning a post on the perimeter, itís frightening, stressful work and it drains you very quickly.  Adding that to the shock and pain of the loss theyíd just suffered makes their dedication and perseverance all the more impressive.  



As these things often are, the end was very anti-climactic.  Despite all of the bluster on his Facebook page, when confronted by men superior both in armament and character, he showed his true colors and folded like the coward he is.  Like most of my vintage Iíll admit to having hoped for a different result and I noticed that several news people commented on the restraint and professionalism it must have taken not to drop the hammer on him. 

Like Mayerthorpe, Kamloops and any number of other places across Canada where similar tragedies have occurred, Moncton will heal with the passage of time and what it and its people will be remembered for is not what happened there but rather for how they responded to it.  Iím hearing reports of individual citizens approaching Mounties on perimeter duty in the initial hours of this horrible event expressing thanks, shaking hands, and even hugging them.  Two nights later, hundreds came out and stood in the rain at a candlelight vigil to honor the fallen constables.  A number of Moncton residents in TV interviews spoke of how the RCMP are a very special part of the community and how devastating this has been.  I didnít hear any complaints from those who were trapped inside their homes, or not allowed to return to them, for 24 hours.  Despite the inconvenience their thoughts were with the families of the members and watching them I couldnít help but think that Moncton must be a pretty nice place to live.

Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



Prime Time Crime

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