On June 4, 2014, 24-year old Justin Bourque stepped through a peaceful, unassuming trailer park community in Moncton, New Brunswick. Fully donned in camouflage, and armed with a rifle and shotgun, Bourque seemed intent on being noticed. He was. A concerned resident phoned the police as Bourque continued on his menacing trek.
Hours later, three officers in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would be dead, and two others seriously injured. Moncton had suffered its first homicide in four years, and witnessed one of the most savage killing sprees in Canadian history.
The events of that day are harrowingly chronicled in the new investigative documentary titled Under Fire, as are a series of troubling questions concerning police safety, training and preparedness. An angry and mentally unbalanced man with a grudge against the governmental authority, Bourque's mission of terror on that day was devised to murder as many police officers as he possibly could. The RCMP, much like the community they served, was shaken by the level of savagery they encountered and ill-prepared to effectively combat it.
The members of the RCMP play a central role in exposing those departmental defects. Several of them are featured in the film; their faces and voices masked to protect their anonymity. "I knew we weren't ready," confesses one officer. "You don't bring a knife to a gunfight." Insufficient equipment was one such factor which may have led to the elevated carnage of that day. The police force officers were armed only with handguns, which served as a great impediment when attempting to subdue a madman with a semi-automatic rifle. The film also exposes failings in proper training techniques, the lack of which places officers at a severe disadvantage when it comes to ensuring their safety.
Under Fire serves as a vivid reminder of the unspeakable dangers facing our police officers on a daily basis, and our responsibility to provide the tools they need to conduct their jobs safely and effectively. Meeting those responsibilities may not completely eradicate future tragedies like the one which occurred in Moncton, but it will ultimately save the lives of civilians and those we depend upon to protect and to serve.