Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (French: Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC), literally ‘Royal Gendarmerie of Canada'; colloquially known as The Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force') is both a federal and a national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides policing services to all of
at a federal level, and also on a contract basis to the three
territories, eight of Canada 's provinces (the RCMP does not provide provincial or municipal
policing in either Canada or Ontario ), more than 190 municipalities, 184 aboriginal communities, and
three international airports. Quebec
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (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 symbolism 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 specifically protected under the Trade-marks Act.
As the national police force of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 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. Largest cities commonly 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. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has reclaimed some responsibilities. 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.
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 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. 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.
History of the RCMP uniform
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 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). 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 cavalry lance. 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's open landau to the Opening of Parliament.
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 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 breeches. Later dark blue breeches 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 breeches; however, blue breeches were considered early on, although with a white strap. Dark blue with yellow-gold strapping is another British cavalry 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 called "Strathcona Boots" or informally as "high browns" (See link to Lord Strathcona's Horse). 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.
Original spurs, referred to as "long shank spurs" were solid nickel, and often had the rowell replaced with a US "buffalo" nickel by the wearer, as using a Canadian nickel would be considered defacing the Monarch (the buffalo being associated to the Mounted Police capbadge). Owners of long shank spurs occasionally had their regimental number engraved on the inside. Long shank spurs have not been issued since 1968.
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 sergeant majors 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 with no tie are worn in the summer by all members except officers, who wear a tie with the short-sleeded shirt. Winter dress consists of a long-sleeved shirt without tie for all members except officers, who wear a tie with the long-sleeded shirt. 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, despite protests, decided that Sikhs would be permitted to wear turbans while on duty as RCMP officers.
Despite ongoing public pressure from groups such as the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, the RCMP continues to use muskrat fur in their winter dress uniform.