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Useful Notes / The Mounties

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Canadian law enforcement is usually always stereotyped as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the RCMP, for short. In actuality, there are more than 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?

Federal forces:

  • 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 propertynote .
    • Their iconic dress uniform is 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. This is worn at parades but rarely on duty; expect almost all works that feature Mounties to neglect this, either accidentally or purposefullynote . The 'everyday uniform' consists if a grey shirt, identical trousers and a peaked cap. Befitting their mounted origins, they hold the ceremonial military status as a regiment of dragoons. They also have international jurisdiction and have conducted police operations in places like Afghanitan and Haiti.
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  • Canada Border Services Agency: (CBSA): Responsible for patrolling the country's borders and enforcing immigration and customs policies.

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 authority over the entire province, relieving the RCMP of most 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.
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  • Sûreté Du Québec (SQ): (there is no official English name—it translates to "safety/security of Québec") 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: Sûreté 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 Sûreté, 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:note  The police force for Canada's second largest city.
  • Vancouver Police Department
  • Calgary Police Service

Police ranks in Canada tend to avoid military titles other than Sergeant, following a similar practice used by British Coppers. Nearly all have similar ranks to the Mounties though most omit some. Ranks in the RCMP are, from lowest to highest:

  • Constable
  • Corporal
  • Sergeant
  • Staff Sergeant
  • Inspector
  • Superintendent
  • Chief Superintendent
  • Assistant Commissioner
  • Deputy Commissioner
  • Commissioner

The lowest ranks have detective counterparts; thus the lower detective rank is Detective Constable.

Most local forces are led by a Chief. 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 and friendly, especially when contrasted with their American counterparts. They also have a reputation for being effective, with the old saying that "The Mountie Always Gets His Man." The Mounties are portrayed more than any other Canadian police force, even though they have little role in Canada's largest cities and provinces.


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