This week, Nova Scotia RCMP had a pretty big bonfire, incinerating 6.92 tonnes of RCMP “kit.” This kit, according to NS RCMP spokesperson Mark Skinner, contained things from uniform shirts and pants to boots and body armour, but also “other items that form a part of a member’s uniform.”
It was all stored at a “secure facility” before destruction, and was burned at an incinerator in Charlottetown.
”This incineration effort was developed in consideration of COVID-19 restrictions and the realities of the incident that occurred in Portapique in April 2020,” says Skinner in an email to The Coast.
The excess gear was equal to approximately 15 pounds of stuff per RCMP member, and there are over 1,000 RCMP members in Nova Scotia. “Most of this was worn out kit,” said Skinner.
In May–just weeks after a gunman took 22 lives, thanks in part to his impersonating an RCMP officer using gear and cars he purchased–a Coast investigation found that dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of police memorabilia were easily attainable online.
RCMP say the current policy on disposing of police kit and clothing is that officers turn in items they no longer require to their unit commander. “The unit commander is responsible for securely destroying the items,” says Skinner.
But items aren’t always destroyed right away.
“There is no specific set timeline for destruction, Units Commanders would gather a number of pieces of kit instead of disposing each one individually,” says Skinner. “I like to use the analogy of washing your clothes, usually you would wait until you have a full load of laundry instead of washing each individual shirt. Each unit has different requirement and would accumulate used kit at difference [sic] paces.”
Skinner couldn’t say how old this particular gear was, but says this policy will “continue to be the norm.” However, other similar policies for the RCMP are changing. Effective January 2021, RCMP are prohibited from reselling decommissioned police vehicles, a policy which directly stems from the events in Portapique last year.
As for the 7 tonnes of gear, it was destroyed over two days, and RCMP say the burning concluded on March 8. When asked if this is the last of it, Skinner says “that’s all for now.”