RCMP says radicalization tough for police to control
With the federal government discussing broad changes to national security laws designed to extend the reach of the Canadian intelligence community, the RCMP are already doubling down on their own efforts.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said the Mounties are sitting down with CSIS to re-evaluate a fluctuating list that now includes 93 "high-risk" travellers, "to make sure that those who present the greatest risk are assessed and have resources attributed to them to do surveillance, focus on the investigation, get evidence and make arrests."
In the aftermath of this week's events that saw two unrelated, targeted attacks against soldiers on home soil, the Mounties moved 250 of its officers from other active investigations -- including those focused on organized crime, financial integrity cases and "other important federal obligations" -- to a national security detail that previously had 180 officers at its disposal nationwide.
Paulson acknowledged the arduous process of investigating, conducting surveillance and gathering evidence on potential threats was "a drain on resources."
"We heard someone asking, 'Why don't you put 24-hour surveillance on all high risk individuals?' Well, okay. But there's not going to be anybody else doing anything else," said Paulson. "That's why we're doing our evaluations (on the) threat they are producing."
Paulson suggested lawmakers need to "look at all options" when trying to deal with the "difficult and hard-to-understand threat" of individuals who have become radicalized, like Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and St. Jean-sur-Richelieu attacker Martin Couture-Rouleau.
"That we are able to act decisively, quickly, preventively and perhaps at a threshold that is somewhat lower (than at present) -- without throwing somebody in jail forever -- but being able to act decisively at a point where suspicion is realized."
Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau called that process of radicalization, and how police should appropriately respond, one of the key challenges facing law enforcement.
"We're seeing a gap evolve in law enforcement's ability to maintain control over these individuals that are being radicalized, and I think there's an opportunity to review those existing laws that are on the books to provide us the tools, within the Constitution, that allow us better monitoring mechanisms and opportunities to prevent these incidents from taking place and to keep our communities safe," said Bordeleau.
Bordeleau said identifying the "triggers" that lead to radicalization, and how to properly intervene is "an evolving field, not just in Canada but across the world."
"There is no one path or one formula to a radicalization, and understanding each individual's path to that state is the challenge for us in law enforcement," said Paulson, who said the public could play a role by remaining vigilant.
"What we're looking for is information. People need to be on alert for changes in behaviour in people, changes in motivations in people, and frankly, as we saw (with Couture-Rouleau), it's quite evident when someone starts to operate in a different way," said Paulson. "We need to know about that, the sooner the better."
- 9:52:36 First calls to 9-1-1 from witnesses at the War Memorial.
- 9:52:23 From the War Memorial, the suspect drives north on Wellington St. and parks his vehicle in front of the Elgin entrance. A pedestrian approaches the car, but people scatter as Zehaf-Bibeau emerges with a gun.
- 9:52:31 He runs onto the grounds of Parliament Hill and heads toward the East Block, where MP's vehicles are parked.
- 9:53:16 He reaches the lead car and tells the driver to get out. The driver flees as Zehaf-Bibeau overtakes the vehicle and drives towards Centre Block. It is at this point the actions are noticed by RCMP officers, who begin pursuit in three vehicles.
- 9:53:37 He parks on left side of the Peace Tower and starts running toward the main doors of Centre Block. RCMP officers chase him to the entrance.
- 9:53:46 He enters Centre Block, seconds before RCMP officers chasing him are able to reach the doors. Once inside Centre Block, Zehaf-Bibeau engages in a fire exchange with House of Commons security and RCMP officers. The gun battle continues in the Hall of Honour, and Zehaf-Bibeau is shot dead by security.
- A total of one minute, 23 seconds passes between Zehaf-Bibeau parking his car on Wellington St. outside Parliament Hill and breaching Centre Block.