The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (French: Gendarmerie Royale du Canada [GRC], literally Royal Gendarmerie of Canada; colloquially known as Mounties, and internally as The Force) is the federal, national, and paramilitary police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized forces in the world. With an on-strength establishment of 24,578 personnel, as of January 1, 2007, it is also the largest police force in Canada.
The RCMP was formed in 1920 by the merger of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP, founded 1873) with the Dominion Police (founded 1868). The former was originally named the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP), and was given the Royal prefix by King Edward VII in 1904. Much of the present-day organization's symbology has been inherited from its days as the NWMP, including the distinctive Red Serge uniform, paramilitary heritage, and mythos as a frontier force. The RCMP/GRC wording is specfically protected under the Trade-marks Act.
The RCMP is responsible for an unusually large breadth of duties, from policing in isolated rural towns, the far north, and urban areas; providing protection services for the Monarch, Governor General, Prime Minister and other ministers of the Crown, visiting dignitaries, and diplomatic missions; enforcing federal laws, including wire fraud, counterfeiting, drug trafficking and other related matters; providing counterterrorism and domestic security; and participating in various international policing efforts. The RCMP Security Service was a specialized political intelligence and counterintelligence branch with national security responsibilities, but was replaced with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 1984, following revelations of illegal covert operations relating to the Quebec separatist movement. Duties, conduct and operational and reporting guidelines are very specifically laid out in a detailed document known as the Commissioner's Standing Orders, or CSOs.
The initial force, commanded by French, set out from Fort Dufferin, Manitoba, on July 8, 1874, on a march to what is now Alberta. The group comprised 22 officers, 287 men called constables and sub-constables 310 horses, 67 wagons, 114 ox-carts, 18 yoke of oxen, 50 cows and 40 calves. An account of the journey was recorded in the pictures of Henri Julien, an artist from the Canadian Illustrated News, who accompanied the expedition.
Historians have theorized that failure of the 1874 March West would not have completely ended the Canadian federal government's vision of settling the country's western plains, but could have delayed it for many years. It could also have encouraged the Canadian Pacific Railway to seek a route for its transcontinental railway that went through the well-mapped and partially settled valley of the North Saskatchewan River, touching on Prince Albert, Battleford and Edmonton, thereby making no economic reason for the creation of cities like Brandon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Medicine Hat, and Calgary, which could, in turn, have tempted American expansionists to make a play for the Canadian prairies' flat, empty southern regions.
The NWMP's early activities included containing the whiskey trade and enforcing agreements with the First Nations peoples; to that end, the commanding officer of the force arranged to be sworn in as a justice of the peace, which allowed for magisterial authority within the Mounties' jurisdiction. In the early years, the force's dedication to enforcing the law on behalf of the First Nations peoples impressed the latter enough to encourage good relations between they and the Crown. In the summer of 1876, Sitting Bull and thousands of Sioux fled from the US Army towards what is now southern Saskatchewan, and James Morrow Walsh of the NWMP was charged with maintaining control in the large Sioux settlement at Wood Mountain. Walsh and Sitting Bull became good friends, and the peace at Wood Mountain was maintained. In 1885, the NWMP helped to quell the North-West Rebellion led by Louis Riel. They suffered particularly heavy losses during the Battle of Duck Lake, but saw little other active combat.
In 1894, concerned about the influx of American miners and the ongoing liquor trade, the Canadian government sent inspector Charles Constantine to report on conditions in the Yukon. Constantine correctly forecast a coming gold rush and urgently recommended sending a force to secure Canadian sovereignty there and collect customs duties; he returned the following year with a force of 20 men. Under the command of Constantine, and his successor in 1898, the more famous Sam Steele, the NWMP distinguished itself during the Klondike Gold Rush, which started in 1896, making it one of the most peaceful and orderly such affairs in history. The NWMP not only enforced criminal law, but also collected customs duties, established a number of rules such as the "ton of goods" requirement for prospectors to enter the Yukon to avoid another famine, mandatory boat inspections for those wanting to travel the Yukon River, and created the Blue Ticket used to expel undesirables from the Klondike. The Mounties did tolerate certain illegal activities, such as gambling and prostitution, and the force did not succeed in its attempt to establish order and Canadian sovereignty in Skagway, Alaska, at the head of the Lynn Canal, instead creating the customs post at the summit of the Chilkoot Pass. At that same time, the dissolution of the NWMP was being discussed in the House of Commons, but the gold rush prospectors were so impressed by the Mounties that the force became famous and its continuation was ensured.
In 1935, the RCMP, collaborating with the Regina Police Service, crushed the On-to-Ottawa Trek by sparking the Regina Riot, in which one city police officer and one protester were killed. The Trek, which had been organized to call attention to the abysmal conditions in the relief camps, therefore failed to reach Ottawa, but nevertheless had profound political reverberations.
The RCMP employed special constables to assist with strikebreaking in the interwar period. For a brief period in the late 1930s, a volunteer militia group, the Legion of Frontiersmen were affiliated with the RCMP. Many members of the RCMP belonged to this organization, which was prepared to serve as an auxiliary force. In later years, special constables performed duties such as policing airports and, in certain Canadian provinces, the court houses.
The RCMP also began actively enforcing Canada's new drug laws in the 1920s, and provided assistance to numerous other federal agencies, such as helping immigration officials deport immigrants and enforcing the residential school system for First Nations' children.
In 1932, men and vessels of the Preventive Service, National Revenue, were absorbed, creating the RCMP Marine Section. The acquisition of the RCMP schooner St. Roch facilitated the first effective patrol of Canada's Arctic territory. It was the first vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage from west to east (1940–42), the first to navigate the Passage in one season (1944), and the first to circumnavigate North America (1950).
In the late 1970s, revelations surfaced that the RCMP Security Service force had in the course of their intelligence duties engaged in crimes such as burning a barn and stealing documents from the separatist Parti Québécois, and other abuses. This led to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP, better known as the "McDonald Commission", named after the presiding judge, Mr Justice David Cargill McDonald. The Commission recommended that the force's intelligences duties be removed in favour of the creation of a separate intelligence agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
In 1993, the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), were transferred to the Canadian Forces, creating a new unit called Joint Task Force Two (JTF2). JTF2 inherited some equipment and SERT's former training base near Ottawa.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been involved in training and logistically supporting the Haitian National Police since 1994, a controversial matter in Canada considering allegations of widespread human rights violations on the part of the HNP. Some Canadian activist groups have called for an end to the RCMP training.The RCMP has also provided training overseas in Iraq and other peace-keeping missions.
On March 3, 2005, four RCMP officers were shot dead during an operation to recover stolen property and investigate a possible marijuana grow-op in Rochfort Bridge, Alberta. Shooter Jim Roszko, 46, then shot and killed himself. It was the single worst multiple killing of RCMP officers since the Northwest Rebellion. One of the four Mounties killed had been on the job for only seventeen days. The victims were:
On October 29 2005, constable Paul Koester shot and killed Ian Bush while he was in custody. An internal investigation resulted in no action being taken against the constable, and, as a result, a public inquest was commissioned. The inquest recommended that the RCMP refrain from carrying out internal investigations with regard to fatal incidents involving the RCMP and the public.
In 2006, the United States Coast Guard's Ninth District and the RCMP began a program called "Shiprider", in which 12 Mounties from the RCMP detachment at Windsor and 16 Coast Guard boarding officers from stations in Michigan ride in each other's vessels. The intent is to allow for seamless enforcement of the international border. (PA1 John Masson, "Territorial Teamwork", Coast Guard Magazine 2/2006, pp. 26–27).
On December 6, 2006, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned one day after informing the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that his earlier testimony about the Maher Arar case was inaccurate. The RCMP had improperly given information to the US that resulted in Arar, a Canadian returning to Montreal via the US, being forcibly sent to Syria where he was imprisoned for 10 months and tortured into signing a false confession of links to terrorists. Earlier, on September 28, 2006 and before the same Commons committee, Commissioner Zaccardelli had issued a carefully-worded public apology to Arar and his family:
Mr. Arar, I wish to take this opportunity to express publicly to you and to your wife and to your children how truly sorry I am for whatever part the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustices that you experienced and the pain that you and your family endured.
On January 26, 2007, after months of negotiations between the Canadian government and Arar's Canadian legal counsel, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology "for any role Canadian officials may have played in what happened to Mr. Arar, Monia Mazigh and their family in 2002 and 2003" and announced that Arar would receive $10.5 million settlement for his ordeal and an additional $1 million for legal costs.
On October 6, 2007, Constable Christopher John Worden of Hay River Detachment, Northwest Territories was shot and killed in Hay River while on duty in that community. A nation-wide arrest warrant was issued for Emrah Bulatci. Bulatci was apprehended on October 12 in Edmonton, Alberta.
On October 14, 2007, Robert Dziekański, a Polish immigrant, was killed at Vancouver International Airport. Dziekański had failed to clear customs and after 8 hours became agitated. RCMP officers were called to the scene after he threw a computer and a small table. During his arrest, he was tasered at least twice within about 25 seconds of the officers arriving. After dropping to the floor, he was held down and handcuffed by four officers. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. The incident was videotaped and eventually released to the public, resulting in a public outcry over the RCMP's handling of the incident and has provoked considerable debate about the use of tasers in policing.
The RCMP are famous for their distinctive Red Serge, referred to as "Review Order" (of dress uniform) consisting of: high collared scarlet tunic, midnight blue breeches with yellow leg strip, Sam Browne belt with shoulder cross strap and white sidearm lanyard, brown riding boots (possibly with spurs), brown Stetson hat (wide, flat brimmed) and brown gloves (with brown leather gauntlets for riders). Review Order is worn by the mounted troop performing the Musical Ride, an equestrian drill in which mounted members demonstrate their riding skills and handling of the penneted cavalry lance (but not cavalry sabre). The maneuvers of "The Ride" are performed to musical accompaniment, including the finale, which is a line abreast charge with lances carried horizontally with tips forward as for a mounted assault . On normal duties, the RCMP uses standard police methods, equipment, and uniforms. Horses are still used for such ceremonial operations as escorting the Governor General to the Opening of Parliament, that is when escorting His or Her Excellency's open landau (carriage).
The Red Serge tunic that identified initially the NWMP, and later the RNWMP and RCMP, is of the standard British military pattern. The NWMP was originally kitted out from militia stores, resulting initially in several different styles of tunic, although the style later became standardized. This style was used to both to emphasize the British nature of the force and to differentiate it from the blue American military uniforms. The blue shoulder epaulets were added in the 1920s, long after King Edward VII granted the Force "Royal" status for its service in the Second Boer War, replacing gold-trimmed scarlet straps from the earlier uniforms. Currently, RCMP personnel under the rank of inspector wear blue "gorget" patches on the collar, while officers from inspector to commissioner have solid blue collars, along with blue pointed-sleeve cuffs.
Initially the NWMP wore buff trousers. Later dark blue trousers with yellow-gold strapping (stripes) were adopted. Members of the NWMP were known to exchange kit with U.S. cavalry units along the border and it is suggested that this was the initial source for the trousers; however, blue trousers were considered early on, although with a white strap. Dark blue with yellow-gold strapping is another British cavalry tradition, and Canadian city police forces frequently wear dark blue trousers with a narrow red strap of infantry tradition.
The wide, flat-brimmed Stetson hat was not adopted officially until about 1904. Although the NWMP contingent at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee wore the Stetson, it was an unofficial item of dress. The primary official summer headdress at the time was the white British foreign service helmet, also known as a pith helmet. This was not particularly practical as headdress in the Canadian west, and members wore a Stetson type hat on patrol and around camp. Sam Steele is often credited with introducing the Stetson-type hat, and when he left the force to command Lord Strathcona's Horse and took the regiment to South Africa he also adopted the Stetson for this unit. For winter a Canadian military fur wedge cap or busby was worn.
Black riding boots were later changed to the modern brown style. The original crossbelts were later changed to the brown Sam Browne type currently worn. The brown colour of the boots and belt worn with the Red Serge come from the individual member applying numerous coats of polish, often during their time in training at Depot Division.
Sidearms are standard now, but were often not worn in the early years.
The everyday uniform consists of a grey shirt with dark blue tie, dark blue trousers with gold strapping, regular patrol boots called "ankle boots", regular duty equipment, and a regular policeman's style cap. A blue Gore-Tex open-collar jacket (patrol jacket) is worn by members on operational duty, while a dark blue jacket (blue serge),is worn by sergeants major and certain non-commissioned officers (NCOs) usually involved in aspects of recruit training or media relations. Officers wear white shirts and the patrol jacket or blue serge, depending on their duties. Short-sleeved shirts are worn in the summer by all members with no tie. Winter dress consists of a long-sleeved shirt and tie for all members and, depending on the climate of the detachment area, heavier boots, winter coats (storm coats) and a fur cap are worn.
In British Columbia the hat features a black bearskin rim belt.
In 1990, Baltej Singh Dhillon became the first Sikh officer in the RCMP to be allowed to wear a turban instead of the traditional stetson. On March 15, the federal government, not without its protesters, decided that Sikhs may wear turbans while serving as RCMP officers.
On May 23 1974 RCMP Commissioner M.J. Nadon announced that the RCMP would begin to accept applications for female members of the force. This opened up positions that had been previously reserved for male members. Troop 17 was the first troop of 32 female regular members, who arrived at Depot in Regina on September 18 and 19, 1974, to start training. This first all-female troop graduated from Depot on March 3, 1975.
In 1981 the first female was promoted to corporal and the first females served on the musical ride; in 1987 the first female served in a foreign post; in 1990 the first female was appointed detachment commander; in 1992 the first female officers were commissioned and in 1998 the first female Assistant Commissioner was appointed.
From December 15 2006 to July 2007, Beverley Busson served as interim Commissioner of the RCMP, making her the first woman to hold the top position in the force. She was replaced by William J.S. Elliott on July 6, 2007, (Elliott was sworn in on July 16—the first civilian to lead the RCMP.)
Although the RCMP is a civilian police force, in 1921, following the service of many of its members during the First World War, King George V awarded the force the status of a regiment of dragoons, entitling it to display the battle honours it had been awarded.
The ranks of the RCMP, in English and French with their insignia, are (numbers as of January 1, 2007):
|'''Enlisted Rank Structure of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police|
| Deputy Commissioner/Sous-commissaire|
| Assistant Commissioner/Commissaire adjoint|
| Chief Superintendent/Surintendant principal|
| Corps Sergeant-Major/Sergent-major du corps|
| Staff Sergeant-Major/Sergent-major d'état major|
| Staff Sergeant/Sergent d'état-major|
|(no rank badge)|
The ranks of inspector and higher are commissioned ranks and are appointed by the Governor-in-Council. Depending on the dress, badges are worn on the shoulder as slip-ons, on shoulder boards, or directly on the epaulettes. The lower ranks are non-commissioned officers and the insignia continues to be based on British army patterns. Since 1990, the non-commissioned officers’ rank insignia has been embroidered on the epaulette slip-ons. Non-commissioned rank badges are worn on the right sleeve of the scarlet/blue tunic and blue jacket. The constables wear no rank insignia. There are also special constables, auxiliary constables, and students who wear identifying insignia.
Currently, there are:
Auxiliary constables are volunteers within their own community. They are not police officers and can not identify themselves as such. However, they are given peace officer powers when on duty with a regular member. Their duty consist of mostly cordoning areas, participate in community policing, backup in situations where regular members are overwhelmed. They are identified by the wording of 'RCMP Auxiliary' on cars, jackets and shoulder flashes.
Community Safety Officers are a new designation within the RCMP, beginning July 7, 2008 in the Province of British Columbia, modelled after the UK Police Community Support Officer program. Community Safety Officers are paid, unarmed RCMP staff members with similar RCMP uniform but distinct arm patch. CSOs work with regular members in five areas: Community Safety; Crime Prevention; Traffic Support; Community Policing and Investigation Support. They are peace officers but do not have full police powers.
Special constables are employees of RCMP, have varied duties depending on where they are deployed, but are often given this designation because of an expertise they possess which needs to be applied in a certain area. For example, an Aboriginal person might be appointed a special constable in order to assist regular members as they police an Aboriginal community where English is not well understood, and where the special speaks the language well.
From the early years of policing in northern Canada, and well into the 1950s, local aboriginal people were hired by the RCMP as special constables and were employed as guides and to source and care for sled dog teams. Many of these former special constables still reside in the North to this day and are still involved in regimental functions of the RCMP, especially with Canada's declaration that 2005 be recognized as the "Year of the Veteran".
Civilian members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are not delegated the powers of a police officer. They are hired for their specialized scientific, technological, communications and administrative skills. Since the RCMP is a multi-faceted law enforcement organization with responsibilities for federal, provincial and municipal policing duties, it offers employment opportunities for civilian members as professional partners within Canada's national police force.
Civilian members represent approximately 14% of the total RCMP employee population, and are employed within RCMP establishments in most geographical areas of Canada. The following is a list of the most common categories of employment that may be available to interested and qualified individuals.
Small powered watercraft such as rigid hull inflatable boats are utilized by individual detachments.
|Bell 206 JetRanger||4||3||L-1, L-4||C-FMPK, C-GMPA, C-GMPV||Helicopter, JetRanger|
|Cessna 182 Skylane||1||1||182Q||C-GFZV||Fixed wing, Skylane, light utility aircraft|
|Cessna 206 Stationair||1||5||U206G,T206H|| C-FDGM, C-FDTM, C-FHGY, C-FSWC,|
|Fixed wing, Stationair (Station wagon of the Air), general aviation aircraft|
|Cessna 208 Caravan||3||3||208, 208B||C-FRPH, C-FSUJ, C-GMPR||Fixed wing, Caravan, short-haul regional airliner and utility aircraft|
|Cessna 210 Centurion||4||4||210R||C-FMOM, C-GHVP, C-GNMK, C-GTCT||Fixed wing, Centurion, high-performance general aviation aircraft|
|de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver||0||1||Turbo-Beaver III||C-FMPC||Fixed wing, bush plane|
|de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter||2||2||300 Series||C-FMPL, C-GMPJ||Fixed wing, 20-passenger STOL feederliner and utility aircraft|
|Eurocopter EC 120 Colibri||0||1||EC 120B||C-GMPT||Light helicopter, "Hummingbird"|
|Eurocopter AS 350 Ecureuil||4||7||AS 350B3|| C-FGSB, C-FMPG, C-FMPH, C-FMPP,|
C-FRPQ, C-GMPK, C-GMPN
|Helicopter, AStar 350 or "Squirrel"|
|Piaggio P180 Avanti||1||1||P180||C-GFOX||Fixed wing, business aircraft, pusher configured|
|Pilatus PC-12||13||13||PC-12/45|| C-FMPA, C-FMPB, C-FMPE, C-FMPN,|
C-FMPO, C-FMPW, C-GFLA, C-GMPE,
C-GMPI, C-GMPP, C-GMPW, C-GMPY,
|Fixed wing, turboprop passenger and cargo aircraft|
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police received an international licence on 1 April 1995 requiring those who use the RCMP to pay a licensing fee. Proceeds from the fees would be used for community awareness programmes. Those that do not pay the licensing fee are legally unable to use the name of the RCMP or their correct uniforms, though a film such as Canadian Bacon used the name "Royal Mounted Canadian Police" (RMCP) and the character in the Dudley Do-Right film did not wear accurate insignia.
The Mounted Police Foundation was set up in 1995 to handle the licensing issues to ensure only high-quality products were sold. However, as the Mounted Police Foundation did not have the expertise on licensing and marketing, they contracted these responsibilities out to Walt Disney Co. (Canada) Ltd., the Toronto-based branch of The Walt Disney Company. This generated some controversies, as some people feared that the deal would threaten the Canadian autonomy in representing Canada The contract with Disney expired in 2000. The licensing program is now operated by the Mounted Police Foundation.
The Mounties have been immortalized as symbols of Canadian culture in numerous Hollywood movies and television series, which often feature the image of the Mountie as square-jawed, stoic, and polite, yet with a steely determination and physical toughness that sometimes appears superhuman. Coupled with the adage that the Mountie "always gets his man", the image projects them as fearsome, incorruptible, dogged yet gentle champions of the law. (Actually, the RCMP's motto is Maintiens le droit, French for "Uphold the Law", also translated as "Maintain the Right", or "Uphold the Right". The Hollywood motto derives from a comment by the Montana newspaper, the Fort Benton Record: "They fetch their man every time."
In 1912, Ralph Connor's Corporal Cameron of the North-West Mounted Police: A Tale of the MacLeod Trail appeared, becoming an international best-selling novel. Mountie fiction became a popular genre in both pulp magazines and book form. Among the best-selling authors who specialized in tales of the Mounted Police were James Oliver Curwood, Laurie York Erskine, James B Hendryx, T Lund, Harwood Steele (the son of Sam Steele) and William Byron Mowery.
In other media, a famous example is the radio and television series, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. Dudley Do-Right (of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) is a 1960s example of the comic aspect of the Mountie myth. The Broadway musical and Hollywood movie Rose Marie is a 1930s example of its romantic side. A successful combination were a series of Renfrew of the Royal Mounted boy's adventure novels written by Laurie York Erskine beginning in 1922 running to 1941. In the 1930s Erskine narrated a Sgt Renfrew of the Mounties radio show and a series of films with actor-singer James Newill playing Renfrew were released between 1937 and 1940. In 1953 portions of the films were mixed with new sequences of Newill for a Renfrew of the Mounted television series.
A former Mounted Police corporal (1919–1923), Bruce Carruthers, served as an unofficial technical advisor to Hollywood in many films on the Force.
The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen on the animated television series The Ren and Stimpy Show is clearly a reference to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The 1972–90 CBC series The Beachcombers featured a character named Constable John Constable who attempted to enforce the law in the town of Gibsons, British Columbia.
In comic books, the Marvel Comics characters of Alpha Flight were described on several occasions as "RCMP auxiliaries", and two of their members, Snowbird and the second Major Mapleleaf were depicted as serving members of the force.
In the early 1990s, Canadian professional wrestler Jacques Rougeau utilized the gimmick of "The Mountie" while wrestling for the WWF. He typically wore the Red Serge to the ring, and carried a shock stick as an illegal weapon. As his character was portrayed as an evil Mountie, the RCMP ultimately won an injunction preventing Rougeau from wrestling as this character in Canada, though he was not prevented from doing so outside the country. He briefly held the Intercontinental Championship in 1992.
The 1998 swan song of Nick Berry's time on UK drama Heartbeat featured his character, Sergeant Nick Rowan, transferring to Canada and taking the rank of constable in the Mounties. The special telemovie was titled Heartbeat: Changing Places.
More recently, the 1994–98 TV series Due South paired a Mountie (and his deaf pet wolf) with a streetwise American detective cleaning up the streets of Chicago, mainly deriving its entertainment from the perceived differences in attitude between these two countries' police forces. A pair of Mounties staffed the RCMP Detachment in the fictional town of Lynx River, Northwest Territories, in the CBC series North of 60. The series, which aired from 1992 to 1998, was about events in the native community of the town, but the Mounties featured prominently in each episode.
Another TV series from 1990s, Bordertown featured a NWMP corporal paired with a U.S. marshal securing law and order on a frontier U.S.-Canadian bordertown. The Mounties also briefly appeared in an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, when after a mind taking battle between Mentok and Shado, the entire jury in the courtroom seems to have turned into Mounties. In the ABC TV mini-series Answered By Fire, there are at least three mounties featured.
On the cartoon show that is a parody of the reality show Survivor, Total Drama Island the episode Up the Creek, One of the Contestants, Izzy fled the Island after the RCMP found her (she accidentally blew up the kitchen while training with the Reserves). Technically making her the one voted off.
The RCMP Heritage Centre is a multi-million dollar museum designed by Arthur Erickson that opened May 2007 in Regina, Saskatchewan at the RCMP Academy, Depot Division. It replaced the old RCMP museum and is designed to celebrate the role of the force in Canada's history.