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Ministerial oversight for Truro's emergency communications centre

Cumberland Colchester MP Bill Casey is seen holding up a number of studies that he says support his position that Nova Scotia’s police emergency communications system should retain its geographical separation.
Cumberland Colchester MP Bill Casey is seen holding up a number of studies that he says support his position that Nova Scotia’s police emergency communications system should retain its geographical separation. - FILE

RCMP ordered to conduct independent review into decision to relocate emergency communications from Truro

TRURO, N.S. – An independent review is to be conducted into the RCMP’s decision to shut down the emergency communications centre in Truro.

Cumberland Colchester MP Bill Casey told the Truro News he was informed on Thursday by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale that the RCMP will be engaging an independent consultant to examine the Force’s plans to relocate the Operational Communication Centre (OCC) in Truro to its head office in Dartmouth.

“Minister Goodale has told me that the RCMP are going to have to do a risk assessment examination on their plan to move the Truro RCMP OCC to Dartmouth. And I’m very, very pleased that the RCMP and Minister Goodale are taking this step,” Casey said, by telephone from Ottawa. “It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Based on all the manuals, guidelines and standards that I can find, that are used by the major police forces in Canada, the most important criteria for emergency communications systems is to have them separated. Geographic separation is the number-one rule.”

RCMP brass were in Truro in February to inform OCC staff that the longstanding Truro operations would be relocated to Dartmouth by early 2021. Casey, Truro Mayor Bill Mills and Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair and representatives for area MLA Lenore Zann and Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade were also informed of the decision in a later closed meeting.

“It’s the opposite of what all the manuals and authorities require for a safe communications system. So, I’m very pleased that they are going to do this assessment,” Casey said. “We have geographical separation now.”

The Truro centre employs 55 people, jobs that would be lost to Dartmouth if the RCMP plans were put in place.

Casey, who has been pressing for an independent review for the past couple of years said while he started pursuing the issue from an employment perspective, it has since also evolved into a safety concern.

“And I’m hoping this will show any weaknesses in the system and make sure we have a proper 911 communications system. The one we have now works really well. It’s been proven over many years,” he said. “It’s been through a couple of province-wide emergencies and held up well.”

Casey added he has heard from numerous fire chiefs, municipal police chiefs and emergency measures officials who have also expressed concerns about the RCMP’s plans to relocate the OCC. Because of the working relationships they have with the RCMP, however, Casey said those officials have been reluctant to discuss those concerns publicly. Some police chiefs have even said they would prefer to have their own emergency communications centre established if the RCMP goes through with the move.

“So, perhaps this independent study will hear the voices of those people who are just reluctant to speak up, for whatever reason,” he said.

After receiving a copy of Casey’s press release, Mayor Mills described news of the review as a “great and common-sense decision.”

“I am very pleased with the decision by Minister Goodale,” he said. “Very pleased with Bill Casey working so hard on this file.”

Mills added that he and the other mayors along with Chief Gloade have written in support of Casey’s efforts.

“Mr. Casey involved all of us in the discussion,” Mills said. “And the unity, I believe, we all had an impact.”

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