The killing spree by a man wearing an RCMP uniform and driving an RCMP cruiser shocked and horrified us all, not only for the deceased innocents he left in his wake, but also because he effectively harmed the public’s perceived trust in Canada’s most iconic institution, the RCMP.
The murderer’s obsession with the RCMP drove him to obtain anything and everything he could, including an RCMP uniform and the four decommissioned RCMP cruisers he restored to look exactly like the real thing.
Just days after the Nova Scotia shootings, two criminals in Ontario passed themselves off as plainclothes police officers to pull people over and interrogate them.
The OPP was quick to point out the impersonators are not real cops.
“The OPP is not conducting random traffic stops to check motorists’ work status during the COVID-19 pandemic, nor are drivers required to prove they are an essential worker to police,” acting OPP Inspector Paul Richardson said on April 22nd.
OPP media spokesperson Cheri Rockefeller also confirmed the two cases are not related.
Fortunately, nobody was injured but these criminals put all of us, police officers and citizens alike, in an impossible situation.
If you refuse to obey a legitimate command by a police officer, you could face some extremely harsh consequences.
If individual police officers don’t take these police impersonators into account by showing patience and understanding about why some citizens may be fearful of police right now, that also lays the groundwork for some extremely unpleasant interactions.
As well-intentioned as the OPP’s advice below is, their recommendations do not solve the problem faced by an individual being pulled over by what appears to be a properly-marked police vehicle.
Slow down, drive in a safe manner to the nearest well-lit, populated area. If this is not possible, do the following:
- Lock all doors, pull over safely and leave your car running.
- If you have a cell phone, take it out immediately and in full view of the person who has pulled you over and call 911.
- Calmly give the 911 dispatcher your location and express your concern.
- Ask the dispatcher if they have had any communication with an officer about a stop in your area and ask them to relay your concerns to that officer.
- As they approach, roll your window down an inch or less and ask to see the officer’s badge and warrant card.
- If you remain uncertain that the person who pulled you over is a police officer, ask him/her if you can proceed to a more populated area. If he/she agrees, tell the 911 dispatcher where you are heading to and proceed.
- Look for inconsistencies in the officer’s uniform. Uniform police officers wear police service insignia and have strict dress code standards. All officers should be able to provide you with the name of their service and detachment, badge number and rank.
Deception and Damaged Trust
In the wake of the Nova Scotia murderer’s killing spree, societal trust of police has been harmed by the despicable actions of a madman.
This killer disguised himself as an RCMP officer to commit his crimes, making it impossible for anyone to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
When other toxic fools – like the two in Ontario – decide now is a great time to pretend they are cops, people are rightfully afraid.
Even the RCMP admit how difficult it was to find the killer once they knew he was wearing an RCMP uniform and driving (what looked like) an official RCMP vehicle.
“I’ve been a police officer for almost 30 years now and I can’t imagine any more horrific set of circumstances when you’re trying to search for someone that looks like you — the dangers that that causes, the complications that that causes,” said RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell.[iii]
Constable Chad Morrison knows this danger first-hand.
In the midst of the manhunt, he stopped his RCMP cruiser at the intersection of Highway 2 and 224 to wait for Constable Heidi Stevenson to arrive. When an RCMP cruiser pulled up beside him, he assumed it was Constable Stevenson. It wasn’t. The camouflaged murderer stopped his car and opened fire on Constable Morrison, wounding but thankfully not killing him.
When trained police officers can’t tell the difference between a real police officer and a fake one, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.
This is why we encourage everyone to use their best judgment to keep themselves safe while still obeying police commands if someone attempts to pull them over.
The nightmare, once seen, cannot be unseen. All we can do is encourage each other to think, be aware of our surroundings at all times, and take appropriate actions to maintain your own safety and that of those with you.
Just as with the COVID-19 pandemic we’re still in the midst of, so long as we apply patience and compassion to every situation we face, we will all get through this safely.
Have Patience With The RCMP Investigation
While many demand answers from the RCMP about how they handled the unfolding mass killing in Nova Scotia, we ask you give the RCMP the time they need to gather all the facts.
These facts will come out. That is inevitable.
They won’t come out today, nor will they come out as fast as we would like, but they will come out.
The RCMP sadly lost one of their own on Sunday morning and, on top of gathering evidence from 16 other grisly crime scenes, they must also piece together how Constable Heidi Stevenson ended up in the murderer’s sights.
Answers will come, but right now is the time for compassion, empathy and understanding of the unbelievably difficult job the brave men and women of the RCMP face.