RCMP Have No Suspicious Package Protocol
And No Plans To Implement Any
RCMP have stated that they have no protocol in place to handle complaints from the public regarding potential package or mail tampering situations. In an interview with a Courtenay detachment staff sargeant Buerk on January 23/2002 it was learned that it is generally left up to the complainant to redirect suspicious packages back to the sender or company of origin.
One woman purchased a product from a local drugstore to discover the package instructions inside the box had been refolded and seemingly stuck together with some unknown substance.Since there were no indications that any of the product contents had spilled inside the box which could have caused the instructions to be glued together, she called the RCMP and asked that they attend her home to examine the package.
The woman was told to return the product to the store she had purchased it from to let them decide what to do with it, which is what she did. This could have potentially exposed store clerks and post office staff to whatever substance was in the package!
The woman was told that the RCMP have no protocol in place, and no plans to implement any procedures to deal with this type of situation. The woman said RCMP basically shrugged the whole thing off!
RCMP staff sargeant Buerk said that "if we sent every suspicious package or envelope to the lab for analysis we would become bogged down." He went on to say " the lab doesn't only have these things to deal with, they have other things they have to do as well" citing other types of cases which keep them very busy.
When asked what procedure they use to deal with these type of complaints, Buerk said "First, a determination is made by an officer as to whether or not a package is suspicious, to establish if it warrants RCMP attention or not."
When asked how they can make that decision without examining the package; he said that the officer would decide over the phone based on information offered by the complainant.
A press release from Health Canada states what the public should do if they receive a suspicious package or envelope?:
1. Do not open it, touch it nor taste it.
2. Isolate the package by leaving it and securing the area.
3. Immediately call 911 and report your concerns so that local hazard material management officials and/or police enforcement agencies can intervene, if required.
4. If you believe you have been in contact with a suspicious package or envelope, wash your hands immediately. Then you should contact a physician or go to the emergency department of your local hospital.
In order to isolate a package and give any real value to calling 911, police would be required to respond and physically evaluate an alleged suspicious package.
RCMP lack of response to complaints of suspicious packages do not seem to reflect Health Canada protocol released in October 2001. Nor does it make any obvious use of the $1.61 million dollars set aside for first responders to equip themselves for such incidences.
By Arlene Longson
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