Nova Scotia RCMP, Halifax police given green light to send emergency alerts directly

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HALIFAX — The RCMP and Halifax police are now able to send emergency alerts directly to citizens, more than a year after a mass shooting raised issues about how police notify the public of threats.

The provincial government said in a news release Thursday its Emergency Management Office worked with police forces to create a system allowing them to issue alerts without the office's assistance.

During the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia, the RCMP issued a series of warnings on Twitter, drawing criticism from victims' families that the social media messages were inadequate.

The families questioned whether some of the 22 killings could have been prevented had emergency alerts been sent to people's cellphones and televisions.

Brendan Maguire, minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office, says in the release the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police now have direct access to the Alert Ready system, adding that the service is available to other police forces across the province.

The Emergency Management Office says it will continue to issue police-related alerts at the request of all policing agencies in Nova Scotia and for non-police matters such as floods and forest fires.

Cpl. Chris Marshall, a spokesman for the RCMP in Nova Scotia, said in an email that the force was provided with direct access at the end of May after training on the Alert Ready system provided by the Emergency Management Office.

He said the RCMP’s alerts are issued from the force's operational communications centre, with the authorization of senior officers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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