Useful Notes / The Mounties

Canadian law enforcement is usually always stereotyped as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the RCMP, for short. In actuality, there's more than the Mounties in Canada to enforce the second-largest land area in the world. But those, unless the creators are local, or are showing their knowledge of Canadian policing, aren't very often seen in media. Let's run down the list, shall we?

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police: (RCMP): Nicknamed The Mounties. The federal and largest police force of Canada and arguably one of the most famous police forces in the world. It was formed by the merger of the Royal North Western Mounted Police and Dominion Police on December 1, 1920. The North Western Mounted Police (the Royal was added in 1904) was famous in its own right for its role in helping bring order to northwestern Canada in the 19th century, much as sheriffs did in the American West. The old (R)NWMP rode horses; the modern day "Mounties" only ride horses at ceremonial occasions, so the name is an Artifact Title. Provincial governments can decide whether to contract the RCMP to police rural areas. Most do, with the exceptions of Ontario and Quebec, where the Mounties' role is limited to mostly protecting federal property.
The source of most of their fame is in their dress uniform (not used for full-time policing, however), known as the 'Red Serge' - a Stetson up top, a scarlet tunic, midnight blue (no, not black) breeches with bulges above the knee, a yellow stripe down the sides, and riding boots, spurs completely optional. As a paramilitary force, they run under military-style ranks and have fought in wars as, befitting their mounted origins, a regiment of dragoons. They also have international jurisdiction and have conducted police operations in places like Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, and Afghanistan.

Provincial forces:
  • Ontario Provincial Police (OPP): Obviously, has national and municipal enforcement of law in Ontario province. Their main job is to police Ontario's rural areas, which the Mounties would do in other provinces. Most cities like Toronto have a municipal police force, . The OPP's role in those areas is thus limited. Formed in 1909, a major policing reshuffle gave the OPP the authority of the entire province of Ontario, relieving the RCMP of their duties in Ontario. While they do share some of the attributes of the RCMP, including ranks and headgear (the latter of which was changed in 2008), they are very different, in some regards, leading to their lack of portrayal in fictional works. However, they still did get recognition, notably with Paul McCartney of The Beatles wearing an OPP patch on his uniform on the cover art of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Notably, the OPP and the Sûerté Du Québec (see below) were featured in the film Bon Cop, Bad Cop.
  • Sūreté Du Québec (SQ): (there is no official English name) The Canadian version of Les Cops Sportif. Formed in 1870, they have authority over the entire Francophone province of Quebec, with moderate to major differences with both the RCMP and OPP. Like the OPP, major policing reshuffles in 1929-1930 within the force changed the structure of the force as a whole, and gave the force, then known as the Police provinciale du Québec, a new name: Sūreté provinciale du Québec, later renamed to what it is today.
  • Royal Newfoundland Constabulary: Newfoundland and Labrador is much smaller than Ontario and Quebec but it is the only other province to have a provincial police force. Unlike the OPP and Sūreté, it is responsible for policing the urban areas of Newfoundland, while the Mounties police the countryside. It has a long history that dates back to 1729 and is the oldest police force of any kind in North America.

Most large cities have an independent police force. Urban police forces include:
  • Toronto Police Service: The third-largest police service in Canada. Founded in 1834, it is the oldest municipal police service in the whole of North America.
  • Service de police de la Ville de Montréal: The police force for Canada's second largest city.

Police ranks in Canada tend to avoid military titles other than Sergeant, following a similar practice used by British Coppers. The ranks of a typical large police force might be:
  • Constable
  • Senior Constable/Corporal
  • Sergeant
  • Inspector
  • Superintendent
  • Chief Superintendent
  • Deputy Chief of Police
  • Chief of Police

It is common to have ranks prefixed with "Staff", which as with army ranks means 'one level above'. So a Staff Sergeant is between Sergeant and Inspector. The lower ranks have detective counterparts; thus the lower detective rank is Detective Constable. A few forces give their chief officer a different name; it is commissioner in both the RCMP and OPP. Quebec's forces have slightly different ranks.

In the media, Canadian police tend to be portrayed as being polite, especially when contrasted with their American counterparts. The Mounties are portrayed far more than any other Canadian police force, even though they have little role in Canada's largest cities and provinces.
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