RCMP Const. Doug Scott, of Kimmirut detachment in Nunavut, was killed while on duty in that community.
RCMP officer, 20, shot and killed in line of duty
Updated Tue. Nov. 6 2007 8:17 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
A 20-year-old Mountie was shot and killed in the line of duty in Kimmirut, a small community in Nunavut.
Const. Douglas Scott became the second RCMP officer within a month to be gunned down in the region. His death comes as the national police force reviews its back-up policy and questions swirl around the practice of sending inexperienced officers to Canada's high Arctic.
"These incidents always cause reflection," Chief Supt. Fraser MacAuley said Tuesday during a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.
At a news conference in Iqaluit on Tuesday, Supt. Martin Cheliak said Const. Scott was killed Monday night at about 11 p.m. while responding to a report of a possible impaired driver.
An individual has been taken into custody in relation to Scott's death, but no charges have been laid.
Scott, originally from Brockville, Ont., had only been with the RCMP for about six months.
"He was only 20 years old but already had demonstrated his commitment to the RCMP, to Canada, and to the community he willingly served," Cheliak said.
Here is a timeline of events, according to Cheliak:
The Aboriginal People's Television Network reported that, according to a local bylaw officer, there was a chase underway between the suspect and police.
"The suspect was in a Ford pickup truck," APTN reporter Juanita Taylor told CTV's Mike Duffy Live in a phone interview from Kimmirut. "There was also a skidoo with another individual on there chasing the Ford, attempting to stop the suspect from continuing on."
Taylor said Scott, who was driving an RCMP truck, was in pursuit of the Ford when the suspect lost control.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement about Scott on Tuesday afternoon.
"I wish to pay tribute to Constable Doug Scott, who died tragically in the line of duty in Kimmirut, Nunavut," Harper said in the statement.
"He tragically lost his life while protecting the people of his community and will be remembered for his courage, bravery and dedication."
Kimmirut is formerly known as Lake Harbour. According to the community's website, it has a population of about 425 people, 91 per cent of whom are Inuit.
The site describes Kimmirut as a community known for its "warm, friendly people and traditional indigenous Inuit culture and way of life."
Taylor said Kimmirut is a "dry" community, meaning alcohol is banned.
New back-up policy held up
Meanwhile, the RCMP is re-examining its policies about when back-up should become mandatory for officers going into uncertain or dangerous situations alone -- although members stress it's too early to tell whether having such a policy in place would have prevented Scott's death.
At the Ottawa news conference, MacAuley defended the practice of sending young recruits such as Scott into remote detachments in the Far North.
"A member comes out of the depot highly trained," MacAuley told reporters.
"Let's not lose sight of the fact they're there for six months and they come out and they're well-prepared to do their job. Yes, there is an apprenticeship -- or whatever you wish to call it -- with our field coaching program. It's like anywhere else; people have to start somewhere.
"This is not an instance where we are sending our young members into places where they shouldn't be."
But Brian Roach, an executive member of the RCMP's staff relations program, said the recent deaths of Mounties in the Far North highlight a glaring problem.
"It's quite bothersome and upsetting," said Roach, adding that a new back-up policy has been written and could be approved at a high-level meeting with management next month.
The staff relations branch "has been pushing for and chasing a backup policy for 10 years," he told reporters. "I think it should have been done sooner."
Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. Ken Legge, also a member of the executive committee, said there is an agreement between the committee, labour representatives and management -- and that the new policy could be approved as early as December.
"There's now an agreed-to policy at the working level between the labour representatives, ourselves and management," Legge said Tuesday on CTV's Mike Duffy Live.
"In early December, I believe, on December 3, it will be going to our senior executive committee and the commissioner for approval. We will be there at that meeting. We will certainly be advocating that this policy be instituted and that it be put into effect immediately."
Legge said the reforms will include taking discretion out of the hands of RCMP members in the Far North. "There are times when complacency sets in, in police work. You've been in a community perhaps a long time or perhaps you know the offender -- or there's many, many factors that come into play when you're assessing risk before you attend to a call," he said.
"And (the new policy) is going to very clearly outline specific circumstances that will require a multi-member response. That means you will not have the option, there will be no discretion, you will have to call out a member to back you up in certain situations."
Roach said the cost of such reforms, in terms of its impact on staffing, may have been one of the reasons the new policy has been held up.
Scott's death comes within a month of the slaying of Const. Christopher Worden in Hay River, N.W.T. Worden, 30, was shot on Oct. 6 after responding to an early morning call for police assistance.
Roach said that it's too early to tell whether having such a policy already in place would have prevented either tragedy.
Residents of Kimmirut held an outdoor vigil Tuesday, and described Scott as a friendly Mountie who regularly attended community events with a "smile on his face," said Taylor.
The local school, where Scott dropped in regularly to visit, closed its doors for the day. "He was very popular with the younger community," Larry Collins, principal of the Qaqqalik school, told the Canadian Press in a phone interview.
RCMP Cpl. Nancy Mason told CP that Scott was the eldest of three brothers and his uncle, Chris Scott, is a staff sergeant with Kingston city police.
In the case of Worden's death, Emrah Bulatci, 23, has been charged with first-degree murder and is in custody in the Northwest Territories.