The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (1942) Canada
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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP; French: Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC), lit. 'Royal Gendarmerie of Canada'; colloquially known as the "Mounties", and internally as the "Force") is the federal and national police force of Canada. The RCMP provides law enforcement at the federal level. It also provides provincial policing in eight of Canada's provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, i.e. all except Ontario and Quebec) and local policing on contract basis in the three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon) and more than 150 municipalities, 600 aboriginal communities, and three international airports. The RCMP does not provide provincial or municipal policing in Ontario or Quebec.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was formed in 1920 by the merger of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP), founded in 1873, and the Dominion Police founded in 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 symbolism has been inherited from its days as the NWMP and RNWMP, including the distinctive Red Serge uniform, paramilitary heritage, and mythos as a frontier force. The RCMP-GRC wording is protected under the Trade-marks Act.
RCMP at Montreal St. Patrick's Day Parade 2017
Despite the name, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is no longer an actual mounted police force, with horses only being used at ceremonial events. The predecessor NWMP and RNWMP had relied on horses for transport for most of their history, though the RNWMP was switching to automobiles at the time of the merger.
As Canada's national police force, the RCMP is primarily responsible for enforcing federal laws throughout Canada while general law and order including the enforcement of the criminal code and applicable provincial legislation is constitutionally the responsibility of the provinces and territories. Larger cities may form their own municipal police departments.
The two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, maintain provincial forces: the Ontario Provincial Police and Sûreté du Québec. The other eight provinces contract policing responsibilities to the RCMP. The RCMP provides front-line policing in those provinces under the direction of the provincial governments. When Newfoundland joined the confederation in 1949, the RCMP entered the province and absorbed the then Newfoundland Ranger Force, which patrolled most of Newfoundland's rural areas. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary patrols urban areas of the province. In the territories, the RCMP is the sole territorial police force. Many municipalities throughout Canada contract to the RCMP. Thus, the RCMP polices at the federal, provincial, and municipal level. In several areas of Canada, it is the only police force.
The RCMP is responsible for an unusually large breadth of duties. Under their federal mandate, the RCMP police throughout Canada, including Ontario and Quebec (albeit under smaller scales there). Federal operations include: enforcing federal laws including commercial crime, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, border integrity, organized crime, and other related matters; providing counter-terrorism and domestic security; providing protection services for the Canadian Monarch, governor general, prime minister, their families and residences, and other ministers of the Crown, visiting dignitaries, and diplomatic missions; and participating in various international policing efforts.
Under provincial and municipal contracts the RCMP provides front-line policing in all areas outside of Ontario and Quebec that do not have an established local police force. There are detachments located in small villages in the far north, remote First Nations reserves, and rural towns, but also larger cities such as Surrey, British Columbia (population 468,251). There, support units investigate for their own detachments, and smaller municipal police forces. Investigations include major crimes, homicides, forensic identification, collision forensics, police dogs, emergency response teams, explosives disposal, and undercover operations. Under its National Police Services branch the RCMP supports all police forces in Canada via the Canadian Police Information Centre, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, Forensic Science and Identification Services, Canadian Firearms Program, and the Canadian Police College.
The RCMP Security Service was a specialized political intelligence and counterintelligence branch with national security responsibilities, replaced by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 1984, following revelations of illegal covert operations relating to the Quebec separatist movement. CSIS is not part of the RCMP, but is its own entity.
Main article: North-West Mounted Police § history
North-West Mounted Police trooper, c.1900
Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald first began planning a permanent force to patrol the North-West Territories after the Dominion of Canada purchased the territory from the Hudson's Bay Company. Reports from army officers surveying the territory led to the recommendation that a mounted force of between 100 to 150 mounted riflemen could maintain law and order. The Prime Minister first announced the force as the "North West Mounted Rifles". However, officials in the United States raised concerns that an armed force along the border was a prelude to a military buildup. Macdonald then renamed the force the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) when formed in 1873.
The force added "royal" to its name in 1904. It merged with the Dominion Police, the main police force for all points east of Manitoba, in 1920 and was renamed the "Royal Canadian Mounted Police". The new organization was charged with federal law enforcement in all the provinces and territories, and immediately established its modern role as protector of Canadian national security, as well as assuming responsibility for national counterintelligence.
As part of its national security and intelligence functions, the RCMP infiltrated ethnic or political groups considered to be dangerous to Canada. This included the Communist Party of Canada, but also a variety of minority cultural and nationalist groups. The force was also deeply involved in immigration matters, and especially deportations of suspected radicals. They were especially concerned with Ukrainian groups, both nationalist and socialist. The Chinese community was also targeted because of a perceived link to opium dens. Historians estimate fully two percent of the Chinese community was deported between 1923 and 1932, largely under the provisions of the Opium and Narcotics Drugs Act (ONDA). Besides the RCMP's new responsibilities in intelligence, drugs enforcement, and immigration, the force also assisted numerous other federal agencies with tasks such as enforcing the residential school system for Aboriginal children.
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 relief camps, therefore failed to reach Ottawa, but nevertheless had profound political reverberations. The RCMP also lost four officers in Saskatchewan and Alberta that year in what became the 1935 Royal Canadian Mounted Police Killings.
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 some Canadian provinces, the courthouses.
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 (from Halifax to Vancouver in 1944), the first to sail either way through the passage in one season, and the first to circumnavigate North America (1950).
Counterintelligence work was moved from the RCMP's Criminal Investigation Department to a specialized intelligence branch, the RCMP Security Service, in 1939.
On April 1, 1949, Newfoundland joined in full confederation with Canada and the Newfoundland Ranger Force amalgamated with the RCMP.
Following the 1945 defection of Soviet cipher clerk, Igor Gouzenko, and his revelations of espionage, the RCMP Security Service implemented measures to screen out "subversive" elements from the public sector.
In June 1953, the RCMP became a full member of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).
Queen Elizabeth II approved in Regina, Saskatchewan, on July 4, 1973, a new badge for the RCMP, in recognition of which the force presented the sovereign with a tapestry rendering of the new design.
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 for the presiding judge, 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).
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Sunset Ceremony 2012
In 1993, the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), were transferred to the Canadian Forces (CF), creating a new unit called Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2). JTF2 inherited some equipment and SERT's former training base near Ottawa.
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 US 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.
On December 6, 2006, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned after admitting that his earlier testimony about the Maher Arar terrorist case was inaccurate. The RCMP's actions were scrutinized by the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.
Two officers were found guilty of perjury and sentenced to jail for their actions in the 2007 Robert Dziekanski Taser incident in Vancouver.
In 2007, the RCMP was named Newsmaker of the Year by The Canadian Press.
On June 3, 2013, the RCMP renamed its 'A' Division to National Division and tasked it with handling corruption cases "at home and abroad".
The American stagecoach robber Bill Miner was captured by the RCMP in 1906.
Albert Johnson, known as the Mad Trapper of Rat River, was killed in a shoot-out with the RCMP in 1932.
RCMP officers in Saskatchewan arrested the perpetrator of the Shell Lake murders in 1967.
Anarchist militants known as the Squamish Five were arrested by the RCMP in 1983.
The suspected driver of the reconnaissance vehicle involved in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing fled to Canada where he was arrested by the RCMP in the winter of 1997 and was extradited to the United States.
Four RCMP officers were fatally shot during an operation in Alberta in March 2005: the Mayerthorpe tragedy was the single worst multiple killing of RCMP officers since the killing of 3 officers in Kamloops British Columbia by a mentally ill assailant. Prior to that the Force had not felt such a loss since the North-West Rebellion.
In July 2007, two RCMP officers were shot dead in the Spiritwood Incident near Mildred, Saskatchewan.
Three RCMP officers were murdered during the Moncton shooting in New Brunswick in June 2014.
The perpetrator of the 2014 shootings at Parliament Hill, Ottawa was shot and killed at the scene by the RCMP.
History of the RCMP uniform
RCMP in dress uniform Canada Day 2015 on Saint Catherine Street - 063
The RCMP are famous for their distinctive dress uniform, or "review order", popularly known as the "Red Serge." It has a high collared scarlet tunic, midnight blue breeches with yellow leg stripe, Sam Browne belt with white sidearm lanyard, oxblood riding boots (possibly with spurs), brown felt campaign hat (wide, flat brimmed) with the characteristic "Montana crease", and brown gloves (with brown leather gauntlets for riders). Members wear the review order during the Musical Ride, an equestrian drill in which mounted members show their riding skills and handling of the cavalry lance. On normal duties, the RCMP uses standard police methods, equipment, and uniforms. The RCMP uses horses for ceremonial operations such as escorting the governor general's open landau to the opening of Parliament.
The Red Serge tunic that identified the NWMP and later the RNWMP and RCMP, is the standard British military pattern. In the original version, worn from 1873 to 1876, it was based on the civilian Norfolk jacket . Originally kitted from militia stores, the NWMP later adopted a standard style that emphasized the force's British heritage and differentiated it from the blue American military uniforms. In 1904, dark blue shoulder straps and collars replaced the uniform's scarlet facings when King Edward VII granted the Force "Royal" status for its service in the Second Boer War. Today, RCMP personnel under the rank of inspector wear blue "gorget" patches on the collar, while officers from inspector to commissioner wear solid blue collars and blue pointed-sleeve cuffs.
Members once wore a white haversack on top of this jacket and white gauntlets, which contrasted with the red tunic. The modern dress uniform replaces these easily dirtied items with brown leather riding gloves and carrying pouches on the belt.
Although the NWMP contingent at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee wore the campaign hat.
A campaign hat is a broad-brimmed felt or straw hat, with a high crown, pinched symmetrically at the four corners (Montana crown).
The hat is most commonly worn as part of a uniform, by such agencies as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the New Zealand Army, United States Park Rangers, and Scouts. The RCMP did not adopt it until about 1904. The original primary summer headdress was the white British foreign service helmet, also known as a pith helmet. This was an impractical choice for the Canadian west, and RCMP 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 in South Africa, his unit adopted the Stetson. During winter, members wore a Canadian military fur wedge cap or busby. In British Columbia, the hat features a black bearskin rim belt.
The NWMP wore buff or steel grey breeches until they adopted dark blue breeches with yellow-gold strapping (stripes) in 1876. Members often exchanged kit with U.S. cavalry units, and while some believe this was the source for the breeches, the NWMP considered adopting blue breeches with a white strap. Dark blue with yellow-gold strapping is a British cavalry tradition, and most cavalry (later armoured) regiments' dress uniforms feature yellow stripes.
Black riding boots changed to the modern brown style called "Strathcona boots" or informally as "high browns" and the original crossbelts changed to the brown Sam Browne type. The brown colour of the boots and belt the RCMP wear with the Red Serge are from members who applied coats of polish, often during training at Depot Division.
The RCMP's original spurs, known as "long shank spurs," were solid nickel. Their owners occasionally had their regimental number engraved on the inside, and some replaced the rowel with a US buffalo nickel to complement the Mounted Police capbadge and avoid using a Canadian coin that would deface the monarch. The RCMP last issued long shank spurs in 1968.
Sidearms are standard now, but were often not worn in the early years.
RCMP in everyday uniform
The operational uniform is 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. Members on operational duty wear a blue Gore-Tex open-collar jacket (patrol jacket), while sergeants major and certain non-commissioned officers (NCOs) involved in recruit training or media relations wear a dark blue jacket (blue serge). Depending on their duties, officers wear white shirts and the patrol jacket or blue serge. During the summer, officers wear a tie with a short-sleeved shirt, and other members wear short-sleeved shirts. Winter dress is a long-sleeved shirt without tie for all members except officers, who wear a tie with the long-sleeved shirt. In colder weather, members may wear heavier boots, winter coats (storm coats) and a fur cap.
In 1990, Baltej Singh Dhillon became the RCMP's first Sikh officer to be allowed to wear a turban instead of the traditional Stetson. On March 15, the federal government, despite protests, decided they would allow Sikhs to wear their religious headgear while on duty as RCMP officers, as had been the practice for Sikh members of Canadian Forces for decades.
Despite ongoing pressure from groups such as the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, the RCMP uses muskrat fur in their winter dress uniform. The RCMP originally decided not to use fur, but the government overruled them.
The RCMP awards its Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal to members who have completed 20 years' service. A clasp is awarded for each successive 5 years to 40 years. Members also receive a service badge star for each five years' service, which is worn on the left sleeve. There are specialist insignia for positions such as first aid instructor and dog handler, and pilot's wings are worn by aviators. Sharpshooter badges for proficiency in pistol or rifle shooting are each awarded in two grades.
Women in the RCMP
In the 1920s, Saskatchewan provincial pathologist Dr. Frances Gertrude McGill began providing forensic assistance to the RCMP in their investigations. She helped establish the first RCMP forensic laboratory in 1937, and later served as its director for several years. In addition to her forensic work, McGill also provided training to new RCMP and police recruits in forensic detection methods. Upon her retirement in 1946, McGill was appointed honorary surgeon to the RCMP, and continued to act as a dedicated consultant for the force up until her death in 1959.
On May 23, 1974, RCMP Commissioner Maurice Nadon announced that the RCMP would accept applications from women as regular members of the force. Troop 17 was the first group of 32 women at Depot in Regina on September 18 and 19, 1974 for regular training. This first all-female troop graduated from Depot on March 3, 1975.
RCMP officer, 2011
After initially wearing different unflattering uniforms, women officers were finally issued the standard RCMP uniforms. Now all officers are identically attired, with two exceptions. The ceremonial dress uniform, or "walking-out order", for female members has a long, blue skirt and higher-heeled slip-on pumps plus small black clutch purse (however, in 2012 the RCMP began to allow women to wear trousers and boots with all their formal uniforms.) The second exception is the official maternity uniform for pregnant female officers assigned to administrative duties.
The following years saw the first women attain certain positions.
1981: corporal, musical ride
1987: foreign post
1990: detachment commander
1992: commissioned officer
1998: assistant commissioner
2000: deputy commissioner
2006: interim commissioner*
2018: permanent commissioner*
- Beverley Busson was the first woman to have held the top position in the force, albeit on an interim basis. She served as the interim commissioner from December 15, 2006, to July 6, 2007. The first female commissioner Brenda Lucki was appointed on March 9, 2018, and was officially sworn into office on April 16, 2018.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Gendarmerie royale du Canada
Guidon of the RCMP
Maintiens le droit (Defending the law, Maintain the right)
see Battle honours
Brenda Lucki (commissioner)
HM the Queen
HRH the Prince of Wales
Honorary deputy commissioner
HRH the Earl of Wessex
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.
Service in wartime
During the Second Boer War, members of the North-West Mounted Police were given leaves of absence to join the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) and Strathcona's Horse. The force raised the Canadian Mounted Rifles, mostly from NWMP members, for service in South Africa. For the CMR's distinguished service there, King Edward VII honoured the NWMP by changing the name to the "Royal Northwest Mounted Police" (RNWMP) on June 24, 1904.
During the First World War, the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP) conducted border patrols, surveillance of enemy aliens, and enforcement of national security regulations within Canada. However, RNWMP officers also served overseas. On August 6, 1914, a squadron of volunteers from the RNWMP was formed to serve with the Canadian Light Horse in France. In 1918, two more squadrons were raised, A Squadron for service in France and Flanders and B Squadron for service in the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force.
In September 1939, at the outset of the Second World War, the Canadian Army had no military police. Five days after war was declared the Royal Canadian Mounted Police received permission to form a provost company of force volunteers. It was designated "No. 1 Provost Company (RCMP)", and became the Canadian Provost Corps. Six months after war was declared its members were overseas in Europe and served throughout the Second World War as military police.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were accorded the status of a regiment of dragoons in 1921. As a cavalry regiment, the RCMP was entitled to wear battle honours for its war service as well as carry a guidon, with its first guidon presented in 1935. The RCMP mounted the King's Life Guard at Horse Guards Parade in 1937 leading up to the coronation of King George VI. The RCMP mounted the Queen's Life Guard in May 2012 during celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.