RCMP wants to restart surplus vehicle sales after program was halted by gun massacre

November 19, 2021
RCMP wants to restart surplus vehicle sales after program was halted by gun massacre
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The RCMP is asking for permission to restart a program of selling off decommissioned police vehicles and surplus auto parts — a program that was halted after a gunman used a retired RCMP cruiser during one of the worst firearms massacres in Canadian history.

The RCMP says it’s running out of space to store its surplus vehicles.

In April of 2020, the gunman — who was impersonating a police officer — drove a former RCMP vehicle across rural Nova Scotia and killed 22 people before being shot dead by police. The former cruiser had been purchased at auction. 

Following months of public outcry, then-Public Safety minister Bill Blair announced a moratorium on sales of surplus police cars in January, saying it was necessary to ensure “they cannot easily be misused for criminal purposes.”

The moratorium also included ATVs, snowmobiles, boats, dirt bikes, engines, trailers and auto parts such as consoles and tires.

According to a briefing note obtained through an access to information request, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki wants the department to carry on selling what she calls “low risk” vehicles and parts “due to the impact suspension of sales is having on operations.”

RCMP locations and third-party vendors across the country store about 3,600 vehicles and parts every year while they are stripped and modified, Lucki wrote in the briefing note. The force says it makes about $8 million annually from selling off such assets.

“The RCMP is working with [the government’s auction site] to minimize the impact of the resulting backlog and storage of decommissioned vehicles which is having an impact on operations,” Lucki wrote in the briefing note.

“It is critical to have sufficient space at either RCMP locations or at third vendors to maintain the continual flow of new vehicles being fit-up, ensuring operational vehicles remain in service and decommissioning those vehicle that are at the end of their useful life.”

In April 2020, a gunman impersonating a police officer drove a former RCMP vehicle across rural Nova Scotia before he was shot dead by police. The former cruiser had been purchased at auction. (Nova Scotia RCMP)

Lucki suggested a phased-in approach to reducing the backlog of surplus vehicles. Phase one is what the RCMP is doing now: leasing temporary storage space and crushing decommissioned vehicles that have been involved in accidents or no longer work — vehicles the RCMP says have low resale values.

Phase two would permit the police service to sell off-road vehicles. Phase three would allow sales of on-road vehicles, such as Dodge Caravans and Toyota Camrys.

In her briefing note, Lucki insists phase three sales would not include vehicles the public would recognize as police cars, such as Dodge Chargers or Ford Explorers. The RCMP is undergoing an internal and external review to decide how to handle those vehicles.

“The sale of low-risk RCMP fleet assets would align with the current sales from other government departments, which also supports environmental and economic considerations,” Lucki wrote.

An RCMP boat seen near Northport, P.E.I. last year. The federal government’s moratorium also covered sales of marine vessels. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

It’s not clear when or if the RCMP would move to phases two and three.

“The RCMP continues to work towards the implementation of phase two and three, which pertain to the sale of low-risk vehicles. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to confirm any further detail on timing,” said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Caroline Duval.

“That said, there is no intent to consider any options for the sale of purpose-built policing vehicles or their associated parts until the recommendations from the internal and external reviews can be implemented, as these vehicles are perceived to pose the highest risk to the RCMP and public safety.”

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