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The Commission has engaged independent researchers and report writers to prepare Commissioned Reports to explore issues in its mandate.

What are Commissioned Reports?

An important part of the Mass Casualty Commission’s work is to explore the causes, context and circumstances giving rise to the April 2020 mass casualty in Nova Scotia. To support this work, the Commission has commissioned two kinds of reports: Technical Reports and Expert Reports.

Technical Reports provide factual information about matters such as the structure of policing in Nova Scotia. These reports will support the Commission’s work by providing an objective and factual account of some of the key government and policy structures that are relevant to its mandate.

In selecting report writers for Technical Reports, the Commission focused on the independence and relevant experience of the report writers.

Expert Reports gather and analyze public policy, academic research and lessons learned from previous mass casualties. These reports will help further the Commission’s mandate by analyzing matters such as policing, emergency services responses, communications with the public and how best to support individuals and communities following a mass casualty.

In selecting writers for the reports, the Commission focused on the Canadian legal criteria for expert witnesses including independence, the suitability and reliability of research methods, depth of knowledge and the necessity of a report written on the matter.

Commissioned Reports will be shared with Participants first to allow them to prepare for the Commission’s public proceedings. The reports will then be made public as part of the Commission’s proceedings, starting in winter 2022.

Steps to create Commissioned Reports

Commissioned Reports

List of Commissioned Reports

A list of the Commissioned Reports for the Commission’s Phase 2 work (exploring the broader context and issues) is below. Additional Commissioned Reports may be prepared to respond to questions raised by Participants and assist the Commissioners during the third and final phase of the Commission’s work as they draft recommendations to help make communities safer.

  • The structure of policing in Nova Scotia

    This report will explain the structure of police services in Nova Scotia. It will provide a snapshot of how policing was structured and resourced to function in April 2020, including the role of the RCMP and municipal police services. The report will explain the role of other government agencies such as Canada Border Services Agency and the Criminal Intelligence Service Nova Scotia. It will also look into governance and oversight, operations, resource allocation, and strategic planning, integrated policing and information sharing.


    Barry MacKnight

  • Sociology of mass casualty events in Canada

    This report will define mass casualty events and will survey the scholarship and policy work that has been completed in Canada with respect to mass casualty events. It will identify the key lessons that can be drawn from scholarly studies about mass casualty events in Canada and some of the key gaps within the policy and scholarly attention. It will also address the social context of perpetrators of mass violence and debates about “lone-actor” events.


    David Hofmann, University of New Brunswick

    Lorne Dawson, University of Waterloo

    Willa Greythorn, University of New Brunswick

  • Mass Shootings & Masculinity

    This report will explain what constitutes a mass casualty event. It will also evaluate the published research about other mass casualty events by identifying gaps within the scholarly and policy literature. The authors will describe their work to establish a register of mass shootings in the United States of America and their own research on mass casualty events, including research into the relationship between masculinity and mass violence.


    Tristan Bridges, UC Santa Barbara

    Tara Leigh Tober, UC Santa Barbara

  • Understanding the Links between Gender-Based Violence and Mass Casualty Attacks: Private Violence and Misogyny as Public Risk
  • Survivors and the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attack on Utøya Island, Norway

    This report will describe the key research findings that emerge from the authors’ research and that of others into the psychiatric and social impacts of surviving a mass casualty on survivors and families, with a particular focus on the research and findings that emerge from the Utøya mass casualty event and its aftermath. The report will describe the immediate, medium term and long term supports offered to survivors of Utøya and their families, and the gaps that the researchers’ studies have identified in those supports, identify the supports needed by survivors and families of victims of mass casualty events and the timescale on which these supports are necessary, and share insights or recommendations emerging from their research about how institutions and communities can prepare for and respond well to mass casualty events when they occur and in the medium- and long-term after such events.


    Grete Dyb, University of Oslo

    Ingebjørg Lingaas, Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies

    Dr Kristin Alve Glad

    Dr Synne Øien Stensland

  • Supporting survivors and families in the wake of a mass casualty event

    This report will address the needs of survivors and communities in the wake of mass casualty events. The report will draw from the author’s empirical research with survivors and communities to provide recommendations about how survivors’ and communities’ needs should be understood, how these needs may change over time, and how they may change with the context of a given event and the community in which it occurs. The report will also explain how needs for support may be distributed within a community beyond the circle of those most directly affected by the events.


    Jaclyn Schildkraut, SUNY Oswego

  • Best practices for forensic psychological assessments, including behavioural profiling and psychological autopsies

    This report defines the field of forensic psychological assessment and draws upon decades of research and scholarship from and about fundamental basic science and forensic science, as well as clinical and forensic psychology, to lay out eight best practices that may be used by law enforcement agencies and courts to evaluate the rigor and value of a psychological evaluation. We review the scientific and evidence basis for techniques used by psychological evaluators, and describe best practices for and limitations of psychological assessments in a manner that is generalizable to various kinds of psychological assessments, including psychological autopsies and behavioral profiling as used by law enforcement agencies. Although both psychological autopsies and behavioural profiling depart somewhat from typical forensic psychological practice, both can be considered forms of forensic psychological assessment, and as such we opine that the norms, values, and expectations for best practice in forensic psychological assessment should apply to these techniques. This report will aid the Commission in assessing the extent to which the "Psychological Autopsy" and "Behavioural Profiles" produced with respect to the perpetrator of the April 2020 mass casualty that took place in Nova Scotia reflects evidence-based techniques and best practices in forensic psychology.


    Kristy Martire, University of New South Wales

    Tess Neal, Arizona State University

  • Intimate partner, gender-based, family violence and coercive control in Nova Scotia: Community and policing

    This report will address the phenomena of intimate partner violence, gender-based violence, family violence and coercive control. The authors will define these phenomena and explain what is known from empirical studies of how these phenomena manifest in Canada and, to the extent possible, specifically in Nova Scotia. The report will address research regarding police perceptions of and responses to these phenomena, identify barriers to reporting these harms and barriers to other non-state responses such as leaving relationships.


    Carmen Gill, University of New Brunswick

    Mary Aspinall, University of New Brunswick

  • Crime Prevention & Community Safety in Rural Communities

    This report will address crime prevention and community safety in rural communities. This author will explain the concept of urban bias in policy making, and how this concept applies to crime prevention and community safety in rural communities. The report will describe how responsibility for rural crime prevention and community safety is effectively delegated to municipal and local governments and civil society and the resource implications of this allocation for those communities. Community resilience within rural communities will also be considered.


    Karen Foster, Dalhousie University

  • Rural policing: A systematic review and compilation of key insights from the research literature

    This report will provide a literature review of rural policing, addressing topics including community relationships, the nature of rural policing, and challenges in rural policing including with respect to culture and local/centralization dynamics.


    Anna Souhami, University of Edinburgh, Law

  • Interoperability and communications among police agencies and other emergency services

    The report will address inter-agency communications, interoperability, and cooperation among police services, and between police and other emergency services. The report will identify mechanisms and structural measures that can be put in place to mitigate against failures in inter-agency coordination, and will point to case studies and best practices where these exist. This report will refer to relevant research literature, and will attend particularly to Canadian case studies and those in peer jurisdictions.


    Curt Taylor Griffiths, Simon Fraser University

  • An international perspective on critical incident response: Communications, risk planning, and deployment

    The report will consider police and first responder decision-making during mass casualty events. This report will describe the author’s research on decision-making in conditions of threat and uncertainty, and draw on other literature where relevant. It will also address the challenges of preparing police and first responders for mass casualty events, community and policing resources that will be drawn upon within crisis response, and the role played by civilians within critical incident response. Where helpful and appropriate to do so, the author will draw on lessons learned from events that have parallels to those being considered by the Mass Casualty Commission, for example, the Utøya massacre of 2011 and the subsequent review of police responses to those events.


    Bjørn Ivar Kruke, University of Stavanger

  • Critical incident decision-making

    This report will provide a psychological review of critical incident decision-making by emergency personnel. The report will consider the personal attributes that support sound decision-making, the role of training, the impact of stress on decision-making, and common cognitive processes during critical incident response. Where salient, the report will draw on analogous examples of critical incident decision-making.


    Laurence Alison, University of Liverpool

  • Communication Interoperability and the Alert Ready System
    Communication Interoperability and the Alert Ready System

    This report will explain the Canadian Communications Interoperability Continuum and the Alert Ready system as it has been designed and implemented. Specifically, the report will explain what communications interoperability means, how efforts to pursue communications interoperability are governed, and how interoperability systems are designed in Canada. In addition, the report will describe Alert Ready, explain how it works, how it is governed and designed, as well as its capabilities and limitations.


    Chris Davis, Cheryl McNeil & Peter Gamble

  • A legal history of the police duty to warn the public
  • Culture in police organizations: Definitions, research and challenges

    This report will address the literature on police culture and organizational culture in other spaces (e.g. public service organizations) to the extent that useful analogies can be drawn with those other spaces. The report will explain the role of organizational culture in making sense of significant events such as those the Mass Casualty Commission is studying.


    Holly Campeau, University of Alberta

  • Discretion and oversight within policing: Interactions among individuals, institutional structures, and culture; and the limits of regulatory mechanisms

    This report will provide a critical examination of the scholarly literature on the nature of police discretion, focusing on how the working culture and organization of law enforcement agencies fundamentally structures the exercise of police discretion and associated powers, such as the powers of arrest, detention, and use of force. In particular, this report will highlight some of the key barriers to making police discretion more transparent, information sharing more routine, and oversight more effective. Where possible and useful, it will attend to comparative examples from non-Canadian jurisdictions to identify some best practices and promising approaches to ensuring that police services are subject to meaningful legal oversight and accountable to the diverse communities they serve.


    Benjamin Goold, University of British Columbia, Allard School of Law

  • The History of Gun Control in Canada

    This report will provide a legal history of firearms regulation in Canada. The report will explain the strategies that have been used to address the dangers associated with firearms (in particular semi-automatic long guns) and address the debates that have played out within Canadian public policy about these strategies. This report will address the enforcement of firearms regulation and the smuggling and illegal trafficking of firearms and associated paraphernalia.

    Where possible, the author will identify the strength and shortcomings of past legislative approaches and of plausible alternative approaches.

    Where possible, the report will identify what (kinds of) weapons have been implicated in mass casualty events in Canada, with reference to specific examples and the legislative or policy response, if any, to these events.


    Blake Brown, St. Mary's University

  • Police Culture: Origins, Features, and Reform

    This report will describe key research conclusions about police culture and efforts to effect change to police culture. The report will explain the methodology of ethnography, and set out the value of ethnography to policing research. The author will supply a definition of the phrase “police culture” and explain the key components of police culture, to the extent that these emerge from research over time. The report will identify some standard strategies used by police services to change aspects of their culture, the success and failures of these strategies, and explain what research suggests about why these strategies are successful or unsuccessful. Where possible, the report will address attempts to influence police culture with respect to family violence, gender-based violence, and the provision of equitable policing services to racialized groups, and the success and failures of these initiatives.


    Bethan Loftus, Bangor University

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