Law Enforcement Agencies in Nova Scotia

Last updated December 27, 2013

NOTE:   THIS PAGE DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY TMR COMMUNICATIONS DETAILS FOR THE RCMP OR HRP.

Law enforcement is unique in the scanning hobby in that it is possible for operations to be compromised by individuals monitoring the communications.  While I am very much in favour of police forces in general to be accountable and open to the public I do also realize that publishing details of their communications systems may not be a good thing.   It is one thing for a hobbyist to figure things out using time and expertise, and quite another for a law-breaker to buy a scanner, casually read openly published details, program the scanner, and then use it as a tool in crime.    While I am disappointed to hear that some forces and departments are migrating to encryption, I can also completely understand it.

This page is intended to give an overview of the law enforcement agencies operating in Nova Scotia rather than list details of their communications.  In the case of traditional VHF I have included frequencies due to the fact that anyone with the simplest of old style scanners can easily listen to the local police just by putting the scanner on search for half an hour or less.   The police will come up eventually, and the frequency will be shown. 

If the term "police" is taken broadly to include all law enforcement bodies, the landscape in Nova Scotia includes many different agencies.   Except as noted in the chart below these agencies principally use the Nova Scotia Trunked Radio System and in general use digital transmissions, with federal agencies and police investigative units using digital encryption.   It is expected in 2013 that the RCMP will totally migrate to encryption within the next year or two.

FOR AN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE EVOLUTION OF POLICE FORCES IN NOVA SCOTIA SINCE THE MID-70'S, PLEASE GO TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police This is the federal policing agency in general, plus they are the provincial police force for Nova Scotia (under provincial contract) and as well the municipal police force in many towns of Nova Scotia (under local contract).    Provincial and municipal RCMP policing is divided into 3 districts:  Southwest Nova, Halifax, and Northeast Nova.  Each of these districts is subdivided into detachments (local offices).  Many of the detachments extend over complete counties or municipalities.  In Halifax Regional Municipality responsibilities are shared geographically with the Halifax Regional Police service (see below).   The RCMP also currently provides policing under contract to most First Nations communities in Nova Scotia..  The RCMP has a multitude of units with various duties.  Most front line units are either general duty detachments organized along county lines, that may also have sub-offices, OR they are special duty traffic services units that primarily monitor traffic along the provincial highways.  There are also many plain clothes departments dealing with federal acts and regulations or with criminal investigations in general.    The RCMP operates on the 800 MHz TMR.  with most areas being dispatched from Truro. It is thought that the RCMP in Nova Scotia does not use the nationally allocated 420 MHz RCMP frequencies.   It has been reported that the RCMP in Nova Scotia will convert to encryption for all except liaison talk groups when the replacement trunk radio system ("TMR2") comes into use in 2015.
Municipal Police Forces Regional Municipalities, cities and towns are obligated to provide their own policing; however this may be contracted out to an outside agency.  Municipalities that currently maintain their own police force rather than contracting out are:  Halifax Regional Municipality (see note above), Cape Breton Regional Municipality, and the towns of Bridgewater, Truro, Kentville, Annapolis Royal, Springhill, Amherst, Westville, Stellarton, Trenton and New Glasgow.    Currently there are proposals and/or agreements in progress that may or will change this list of towns.   HRM, Bridgewater and Truro operate on the 800 MHz NS TMR.   The other municipal police forces utilize VHF, as described below.  Note that any town police force may enter into a contract to police another town or a First Nations community.    CBRP does police one such First Nations community under contract.
Special re Halifax Regional Municipality HRM is unique in Canada in that it is policed by two different forces or departments.   The area comprising the former cities of Dartmouth and Halifax, and the former town of Bedford are covered by the Halifax Regional Police.   So is the Sambro loop area of the former County of Halifax.  The remainder of the former County is covered by the Halifax District of the RCMP.     While their patrol officers in uniforms and marked vehicles operate in these separate areas, their support and criminal investigation arms are closely integrated.      The HRP operates on the TMR (digital, with some encrypted), and within HRM the RCMP patrol components are integrated into the same talkgroups, however they do have separate dispatchers.   The RCMP outside HRM, and those members in federal policing roles are dispatched by the RCMP central dispatch in Truro.    While the HRM dispatch services are integrated, the organization remains somewhat different.   

HRP patrols are organized by not only by large zones (East, West, Central) but also by smaller sub-zones that are numbered.     Personnel and cars are assigned to a sub-zone and while they certainly can and do assist outside the sub-zone, their routine patrols are within the sub-zone.   On-air they are identified by sub-zone, not by actual car number.   For example Central 1 Alpha.   This is a Central Zone car, patrolling sub-zone 1.  There might be a Bravo and Charlie car as well.   These are simply additional vehicles in the same sub-zone assigned as needed.   The Sergeant zone commander is identified as 10.   There is also a Staff Sergeant watch commander for the complete HRP area identified usually as "61", but he or she is only rarely heard on the air.

The RCMP district is divided into 6 zones or detachment areas:  Tantallon, Lower Sackville, Cole Harbour, Musquodoboit Harbour, Sheet Harbour and North Central.  There is also a sub-office in North Preston. The first three are mostly suburban in nature and have many vehicles whereas the latter three are rural and smaller.    While the 6 detachment areas are technically divided into sub-zones much like the HRP areas, the members to a greater extent patrol their whole areas.    The result of this is that the central dispatch in bringing an incident to the attention of HRP members will more or less assign the call to a specific car, whereas for the RCMP areas they will inform for example "Cole Harbour members" and one or more will take on the assignment.   The RCMP identifies by car numbers, not by sub-zone area.   Cars are numbered according to the area they are normally assigned to (however they can be moved around for specific incidents or for longer periods of time).    
HA plus zero plus a digit =  Airport  (might be only one vehicle HA01)
LS plus numbers from approximately 15 to 29 = Sackville
CH plus numbers in 30's as well as at least one in the low 50's = Cole Harbour
TA plus numbers in the 40's = Tantallon
?? plus numbers in the 50's = North Preston   (may only be 51)
MH plus numbers in the 60's = Musquodoboit Hbr (this office seems to have around 6 or 7 vehicles)
SH plus numbers in the 70's = Sheet Harbour (has approximately 3 vehicles)
NC plus numbers in the 80's = North Central (has approximately 2 vehicles

In addition the supervisory vehicles operated by senior NCO's that can and do move between various areas of the Halifax District RCMP area area are identified by the prefix HX.   It is thought that these identifications relate to the member involved, rather than the vehicle.  HX01 is the Watch Commander, but numbers as high as 07 have been reported.  Generally speaking the supervisor for the Sackville area is identified as HX04.   There also may be consistent numbers for supervisors in other areas.

Military Police The military police provide policing services on bases, including married quarters, and as well during deployments.    There are dedicated regular force MP units at Halifax and Greenwood, and as well a reserve unit based in Lower Sackville that operates most commonly in conjunction with army reserve exercises and provides personnel for overseas deployments.   Military police for the two bases operate on the TMR, and are generally encrypted.    The reserve unit is thought to be closely aligned with army operations and therefore would be likely on army field frequencies, such as on low band VHF as well as the TMR.    It is thought that in recent years the regular and reserve units are combined into one regiment with its headquarters in Lower Sackville.    Very few people realize that there is a base in Lower Sackville as it is on First Lake Drive and quite inconspicuous, being behind the Sobeys grocery store.
NS Vehicle Compliance This service deals with the safety and weighing of transport trucks.   Weigh scales may be heard on the radio but principally it will be the inspectors in their grey pickup trucks and cruisers that you will see and hear.   These vehicles, like other law enforcement vehicles, have red and blue lights.   These inspectors are not armed.  TMR analogue.   They are heard very commonly checking in with Shubie Radio on VC Central, but they do also operate on regional VC talk groups.
Motor Carrier Inspectors These officers inspect busses throughout the province.   They can be seen driving vehicles that are white with red and blue markings.   They have red and blue lights and red lights, which may or may not be the roof type.   Officers are unarmed. TMR analogue. They can be heard checking in with Shubie Radio on VC Central but there is also at least one MC talk group.  
Motor Vehicle Inspection Officers It is thought that these officers supervise the Registry of Motor Vehicles automobile inspection system.  At the time of writing this description is speculative.   Vehicles have been observed, and also heard checking in on the VC Central talk group using the MV prefix and numbers in the 20's.    Vehicles seen have been grey sedans with a logo on the doors but no emergency lights.    Having said this, one of these vehicles was heard checking in with a 10-11 in Burnside on a passenger car, and how this could be done without law enforcement lights is not known.  Perhaps they are equipped with portable blue lights.
Canada Border Services Agency This agency, formerly referred to as "Customs" has become increasingly active and visible in recent years in response to serious incidents of smuggling of goods and people.   The personnel are uniformed and operate a variety of vehicles that may be unmarked but do in some cases have red and blue lights.  Some CBSA officers are armed.   CBSA uses the TMR, some regular digital, mostly encrypted.
DNR Conservation Officers Formerly known as game wardens or wildlife officers, this subdivision of the Department of Natural Resources deals primarily with the regulation of hunting and firearms in the province.   The armed and uniformed officers drive pickup trucks painted dark green with yellow trim and lettering.   As with other agencies, they have red and blue lights.   While they would have access to the regular DNR TMR talk groups they normally operate on special enforcement tg's which generally will be encrypted but general check-ins with Shubie Radio are conducted unencrypted.
DFO Fisheries Protection Officers regulate the federal aspects of marine and freshwater fisheries.    A variety of vehicles, marked and unmarked are used, as well as vessels.   FPO's carry arms.    DFO uses a combination of Marine VHF, the TMR and associated 800 MHz conventional repeaters, and as well long range marine SSB radios.   It is thought that their TMR communications are mostly encrypted.
Parks Canada Park Wardens are the law enforcement agency inside the national parks of Nova Scotia.      More information is needed on the radio usage of the wardens; however it is thought that Cape Breton Highlands, at least, is dispatched from elsewhere in Canada.    Wardens normally drive green trucks with red and blue lights.    Some (or perhaps all in our region) wardens carry side arms.    It is unclear what radio systems are used.   Kejimkujik may at least partly use the TMR.     The historical sites in the Halifax area still use frequencies in the area of 166 MHz.     Cape Breton Highlands may continue to use frequencies in the 140's.
CN Police Like other federally-chartered railways CN is entitled or perhaps obligated to provide its own policing.   The CN Police has a minimal presence in Nova Scotia with one or two vehicles, most likely based in Moncton.  A cruiser has been seen in the Halifax area, as well as a Ford Explorer in Northwestern N.S.    CN Police can, in theory, be heard on the VHF Railway Band (see the separate page on Listening to Railways in the Maritimes) but it is also thought that in the Halifax area they are dispatched by the HRM dispatch centre.    RR frequencies to watch are:  161.235 paired with 160.575
Environment Canada Enforcement Branch This section of the federal Dept of the Environment is divided into two directorates: the Environmental Enforcement Directorate and the Wildlife Enforcement Directorate.  The first deals with pollution oriented issues and the second is tasked with, among other things, enforcing the migratory birds regulations.    The enforcement officers do carry firearms at least on occasion.     Here is a link to one of their official pages.   Radio information unknown.
Halifax Bridge Police As of 2010 the vehicles of this service are marked "Bridge Patrol" rather than "Bridge Police".    The commissionaires that patrol the bridges and as well man the toll booths do have special constable status, with the ability to charge drivers for offences committed on the property; however they do call upon the HRM Police on many occasions.    This service operates on 152.36 MHz.
NS Department of Justice Sheriffs Department As in other parts of Canada, Sheriffs are court officers charged with the transportation of prisoners and their supervision while in court.    Most sheriff vehicles in Nova Scotia are panel vans used for transportation, however there is at least one sedan looking much like a police cruiser minus the lights.  Sheriffs operate on the TMR.
Other agencies At one time there was a postal security service.  It is not known if this still exists.      Information on this or any other law enforcement agencies should be sent to marscan1 AT canada.com.

 

NS Police Forces Using VHF

This covers all municipal forces outside HRM.

There are a dwindling number of town and regional police departments remaining in Nova Scotia.  The decrease is due to amalgamations and to a trend to hiring the RCMP to take over municipal duties.   In many cases, but not all, the members of the former town forces are offered employment in the RCMP, so that the personnel do not completely change, however the communications frequencies and systems do change over to regular RCMP standards.  

Nova Scotia has an obsolescent VHF repeater network that served all government departments, and which has since 2000 been progressively replaced by a newer 800 MHz trunk system, which is now used by the Halifax Police and by the RCMP.   One component of the old VHF system was a common police frequency (153.59 MHz) that was available at several of the repeater sites and is still known to be active in the Annapolis Valley and New Glasgow area and possibly in other areas.   This repeater system not only allowed separate departments in any one area to intercommunicate, but also allowed communications around the province.   The long distance communications component no longer exists, and today if and where these repeaters still exist they can be considered stand-alone tools. 

The largest remaining municipal force outside Halifax is the Cape Breton Regional Police Service.  This is an amalgamation of a number of individual town and city forces dating from 1995.  It took in all the former town police departments such as Sydney, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, New Waterford and Glace Bay .    In 2000, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality completed controversial contract discussions which led to the takeover by the Regional Police of responsibility in the rural areas outside of the former town and city areas.   This takeover resulted in the closing of a number of RCMP detachments. Click here for the CBRPS site.   

All municipal forces listed here also have liaison talk groups on the NS TMR so that their local dispatch centre can communicate with the RCMP and with other departments.  |in some cases or at some times, the VHF dispatch frequency might actually be simulcast on the liaison talk group.  For information on the liaison talk groups check ScanMaritimes or RadioReference.  Information below is principally about the VHF frequencies in use.

Department

Repeater Output Frequency (or Simplex) or TMR t.g.

Input
Frequency
Tone

Notes

CBRP Central

153.9350

154.890 100.0  

CBRP North

154.0100

159.300 192.8  

CBRP East 1

155.1900

154.620 173.8  

CBRP East 2

158.7300

152.105 123.0  

CBRP Louisbourg

155.2500

164.100 118.8  

CBRP Ben Eoin IMRS repeater

152.3600

157.440 136.5  

CBRP Kempt Head

173.0700

168.060 ??  

CBRP Morley Road

172.3200

167.400 ??  

CBRP Tactical

166.5600

169.260 107.2  

New Glasgow area police departments

153.5900

155.100 100.0

Channel 2.  "Four Towns Channel"  This is a former Municipal Police Network repeater used for interdepartmental communications.  It is reported that it is currently used as a pursuit channel, i.e. for a vehicle chase that could cross town boundaries and requires coordination.

New Glasgow area police departments 159.3300 Sx -- ?? Integrated Emergency Response Team
New Glasgow area police departments TMR 57056     Integrated Street Crime Unit.  This talk group is reported to be digital encrypted.

New Glasgow Police Department

154.8300

159.225 103.5 AS OF DECEMBER 2013 THIS SERVICE UTILIZES NXDN DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND IS LISTENABLE ONLY ON NXDN EQUIPMENT, NOT ON ANY CURRENTLY AVAILABLE SCANNER.

Stellarton Police Department and Westville Police Dept. (shared)

153.8900

155.220 77.0  

Trenton Police Department

154.6200

158.40 91.5

As of early 2011 this department is merged into the New Glasgow Police Dept., This frequency pair is now used by the works dept.

Truro Police Department

TMR 17824

   

Truro PD formerly operated on 159.15 (155.49) CSQ, but operations now are entirely on the NS Trunk.   As of 2010 the old repeater was still operational; however it may have been transferred to the fire department as a backup to its 155.61 frequency.  Information is requested regarding any current use of 159.15

Amherst Police Department

151.3550

154.310 100.0

THIS SERVICE UTILIZES MOTOTRBO DIGITAL  TECHNOLOGY, NOT LISTENABLE ON ANY CURRENT SCANNER.  MOTOTRBO IS LISTENABLE BY OTHER MEANS. For information on Mototrbo click here.

Springhill Police Department

158.7300

??? ???

Like Amherst, this department uses Mototrbo.

Kentville Police Department

162.795 and simulcast on TMR 34192

167.775 114.8

This frequency has replaced or supplemented the previous 154.89 (155.34) CTCSS 114.8 as of 2010.
The department is also able to use the Town Works repeater: 169.125 (172.02) CTCSS 114.8

Annapolis Royal Police Department 153.5900 155.100 136.8 (former Municipal Police Network repeater)
Also uses simplex 158.805 and 159.42 CSQ

Bridgewater Police Department

As of March 2013 BPD converted to the NS Trunk using radios purchased from the defunct Vancouver Olympics system. The reported talk group is 63520.

It is unknown whether any radios using the frequencies shown at right still are in operation.

 

 

159.0900

 

 

154.680

 

 

146.2

 

 

 


 

HISTORICAL RETROSPECT ON POLICE FORCES IN NOVA SCOTIA

 

When I arrived in Nova Scotia in the mid-70ís there were quite a few more police forces than there are today in 2013.    Here is a list of what I believe to be the forces back then and what happened to the ones that no longer exist, and if possible the dates of such demises.


On my arrival all of the forces used VHF radio systems, but over the decades the specific information on frequencies has been lost.  

It is thought that Halifax Police used (or had been using) frequencies in the 155 MHz range but around this time switched to the band between 140 and 144 MHz.   It was thought by scanner listeners at the time that this move was intended to thwart their listening, as at the time, few scanners covered that segment.   Later HPD moved to the city-owned Motorola Type 1 trunk before finally migrating further to the provincial trunk system it is on today.

The Dartmouth Police department also used the 155 MHz range, and migrated later to the Dartmouth City 400 MHz conventional system (consisting of several repeaters, also used by the fire department and perhaps by the works department as well).

 

Truro used a repeater on 159.15 until it converted to the NS Trunk in the early 2000ís.

 

All other departments are thought to have been using VHF in the 154 to 170 MHz range continuously to the present or to their dissolution.

During the 1980ís and 90ís the provincial government provided repeaters at some of its IMRS sites for the use of local police departments for inter-department use.   All of these repeaters had an output of 153.59 MHz and an input of 155.10 MHz.     These are known to have been in operation in areas where there were multiple local police departments, and commonly used for communications between these departments.  In theory, at least, departments could also use tone signaling to connect to distant areas of the province.    In the Annapolis Valley the RCMP also used the repeater for liaison with municipal forces, and this may also have been the case in other areas.

 

 

Existed in 1970ís and still exist today

Kentville
Annapolis Royal
Bridgewater
Amherst
Springhill
Truro

New Glasgow
Stellarton
Westville

CN Police
Military Police

Existed in 1970ís but no longer exist

Dartmouth (amalgamated into HRP 1996)
Halifax (amalgamated into HRP 1996)
National Harbours Board (superceded by Ports Canada Police in 1983)

Shelburne (to RCMP)

Berwick (to Kings County RCMP)

Hantsport (to RCMP)
Wolfville (to Kings County RCMP)

Middleton (to Annapolis County RCMP)

Trenton (to New Glasgow Regional)

CP Police (CP exited province)

 

The following 7 forces amalgamated in 1995 to form Cape Breton Regional Police:

Sydney
North  Sydney
Sydney Mines
Dominion
New Waterford
Glace Bay
Louisbourg

Established later than the 70ís but no longer exist

Unamaki Tribal Police (start year uncertain. Disbanded in 2002 due to funding. Policing went to RCMP and CBRP)


Bedford (amalgamated into HRP 1996)


Lunenburg-Mahone Bay [1998-2001] (to RCMP)

 

Ports Canada Police [1983-1997] (to HRP)

Established later than the 70ís and still exist today

Cape Breton Regional Police [1995]

 

Halifax Regional Police [1996]