N.S. to outlaw sale and possession of ex-police vehicles, equipment

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Police released this photo of a mock RCMP vehicle that was being driven by the gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia last April. (Nova Scotia RCMP - image credit)
Police released this photo of a mock RCMP vehicle that was being driven by the gunman who killed 22 people in Nova Scotia last April. (Nova Scotia RCMP - image credit)

A bill introduced Thursday in the Nova Scotia Legislature would make it illegal for anyone in the province to create or sell used police vehicles, uniforms and equipment.

The proposed law would also outlaw the possession of anything that could be used by someone who is not an officer to try to pass themselves off as one. Justice Minister Randy Delorey called it the most comprehensive law of its kind in Canada.

"There's no, to the best of our review, any jurisdiction with a full, comprehensive act covering the production, distribution and possession of police articles," he told reporters at a bill briefing at Province House.

Delorey began the briefing by making reference to the mass shooting last April in which a gunman dressed as an RCMP officer evaded police, killing 22 people over the course of 13 hours before being shot dead by officers.

"Those days in April were two of our province's darkest days," Delorey said. "And, to this day, our hearts remain heavy from pain and loss."

A public inquiry has been called to determine what led to the shooting and what authorities did, or failed to do, to try to prevent it. Part of that work is expected to focus on how the gunman was able to obtain old police vehicles and kit them out to look real. The gunman was also dressed like an officer.

RCMP believe the gunman wore parts of an authentic RCMP uniform while he travelled around rural parts of the Nova Scotia during the killings.
RCMP believe the gunman wore parts of an authentic RCMP uniform while he travelled around rural parts of the Nova Scotia during the killings. (Nova Scotia RCMP)

Delorey said the Police Identity Management Act would be something that could "help prevent the reoccurrence of a similar tragedy."

"While impersonating a police officer has always been a criminal offence, the legislation we are introducing today will further restrict someone from being able to access items that would facilitate impersonation," Delorey said in his opening remarks.

The bill sets out who can create, sell and own police hardware, and makes it an offence, punishable by up to $10,000 and three months in jail, for anyone who is not authorized to do so.

Former police officers who have old uniforms, badges or other police-issued equipment will be allowed to keep them as long as they are rendered "unserviceable." That is described in legislation as "permanently altered such that [it] could not reasonably be confused with" the actual piece of police equipment.

In the case of former RCMP officers, when they retire or leave the force, they are given their badges encased in Plexiglas.

The bill would also made it mandatory that all police forces in the province have specific written policies regarding the safe disposal of old police vehicles or gear.

Asked if that was already the case with forces in Nova Scotia, Delorey said "many" do but could not provide an exact number.

The proposed law makes exceptions for museums, collections and for film or TV work.

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