New Brunswick RCMP ready for lifting of COVID-19 restrictions: Commanding officer

RCMP in New Brunswick are bracing for the removal of the emergency order that has loomed over the province for the past 16 months. The force’s top officer sat down to discuss how the pandemic has impacted his members. Nathalie Strugeon has that story.

New Brunswick RCMP is bracing for the lifting of the emergency order on July 30 at midnight.

The commanding officer of the New Brunswick RCMP, Assistant Commissioner Larry Tremblay, said no one could have ever prepared for a pandemic like COVID-19, not even people who deal in crisis and challenging situations all the time.

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“We’re used to dealing with crisis, emergency situations, challenging, complex issues, but an 18-month pandemic, I don’t think anyone can be prepared for that,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

Tremblay said they began watching the pandemic as it unfolded in other parts of the world until it crept into Canada and eventually New Brunswick. It took a coordinated approach, he said.

Effective communication of policies, providing safety equipment to front-line officers and ensuring everybody was on the same page played a critical role in the RCMP’s approach to handling the pandemic while maintaining critical services.

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Tremblay said combining the everyday risks associated with police work and a deadly virus made everyone anxious.

“I think, if I can be blunt from my position, every day you come to work hoping that everyone that comes on shift will go back home to his family that night,” he said.

Officers in the province, including municipal police officers and public safety officers, were charged with enforcing the mandatory order. In some cases, Tremblay said, it meant literally coming face-to-face with other people.

He said the RCMP is responsible for policing about 70 per cent of the province, and there could be no wavering in the efforts to provide public safety to residents regardless of risks associated with the virus.

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As for the move to green, Tremblay said there is a sense of relief among the team, but protocols won’t be changing within the RCMP. Masks will stay, sanitization and cleaning will stay, and so will physical distancing.

“It’s been, I think, a trying experience for everyone in New Brunswick,” he said Thursday. “I think the people of the Atlantic, I think you could look at our situation compared to other Canadian situation, American or European situation, and I think we can be proud of how we dealt with this crisis.”

Tremblay said there was worry about the pressures and backlash other law enforcement faced in Canada and U.S. as people protested the mask mandates, restrictions and lockdowns.

RCMP staff and officers won’t be required to vaccinate, he said, adding it is a personal decision.

“I don’t comment on policy, but I think we’re going to remain ready and prepared should something develop, we’re good for it,” he said Thursday.

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