Although 19 years after the Twin Towers attack police forces are being scrutinized for actions and attitudes that do not reflect their “To Serve and Protect” motto, we deemed it important to interview Chief Superintendent Richard Emery, Co-chair of the CACP’s (Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police) Counter-Terrorism and National Security Committee, to give us a view of what it’s like to work in security daily.
Milénio Stadium: What has changed in the way policing since 9/11?
Richard Emery: Specific offences with respect to terrorism were created in the Criminal Code of Canada following the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Further terrorism offences have been added subsequently. Please contact the Department of Justice for more information.
MS: The 9/11 attacks brought the concept of terrorism close to home and we are now aware that it is something which can affect any of us. Is it fair to say that terrorism has gained a new global dimension?
RE: Canada works closely with international partners and maintains strong relationships with law enforcement agencies around the world. These relationships are fundamental to our ability to ensure Canada responds to globalized threats.
MS: How can police help people feel more secure about terrorism?
RE: The CACP’s mandate is to support police professionals through innovative and inclusive police leadership to advance the safety and security of Canadians.
We would encourage Canadians to be aware of these issues because a successful prevention strategy cannot function without the active participation and cooperation of key community partners. With this in mind, the CACP is exploring opportunities to raise awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to law enforcement so that, together, we can leverage best practices to prevent, protect against, and mitigate terrorist threats through enhanced partnerships. Canadians are invited to review the information found on the RCMP Web page devoted to National Security Awareness and to call their local police or 911 if they feel threatened or have been the victim of violence. Law enforcement, government, academic, and community partners are continuously working to better understand the factors that contribute to individuals becoming radicalized to violence, and to identify appropriate responses.
MS: From the perspective of the police, what role does the common citizen play in regards to security?
RE: Public safety is a shared responsibility, and the best approach is multi-sectoral, involving partnerships at all levels, and particularly involving the full range of community services. It also requires the active engagement of citizens.
Advanced recognition of the early warning signs of radicalization to violence and intervening at an early stage is essential in helping to prevent an individual from participating in criminal activities, and mobilizing towards violent behaviour.
More information can be found on the RCMP Web page devoted to National Security Awareness.
We encourage the public to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activities by contacting the police in their community or the National Security Information Network at 1-800-420-5805.
MS: 19 years after 9/11, we are witnessing an “anti-police” movement that was born in the United States, but which is spreading everywhere. What impact can this have on society in the short / medium term?
RE: We invite you to review the content of the CACP statement on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA that touches on this topic.
See some of it below:
“Many people are hurt and angry right now and police are at the forefront of this conversation. While police have developed many strong relationships in our communities over the years, this is a time for us to listen closely and learn. Please know that we are your brothers, sisters, neighbours, coaches, volunteers, sons and daughters, who serve proudly on the frontlines under very challenging circumstances to keep our communities safe. We all want a better Canada without racism.
It is important to understand that Canada and the United States are distinct in many ways, including our approaches to policing. Canadian police services have, for many years, focused their approach on community engagement and well-being, and proactive crime prevention. (…)
Policing in Canada is dependent on the trust, accountability, and support of the community – it is a cornerstone of our profession. Your Canadian police community wants to listen to you and work with you, and various levels of government, to find opportunities and solutions that work for the people of Canada. This is our commitment to you.”
MS: How can we find a balance between the protection of society and the protection of individual freedom?
RE: The overarching priority of the police is the safety and security of the public. We remain vigilant for potential threats and take the appropriate measures to ensure that the safety and security of Canadian individuals and communities is protected.
MS: What did we learn from the fall of the Twin Towers? Is the world safer?
RE: National security requires a cohesive approach to ensure early detection and prevention of any potential threats to Canada and the public. You may wish to contact Public Safety Canada to discuss the Government of Canada’s response to this question.