Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP; French: Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC), lit.'Royal Gendarmerie of Canada'; colloquially known as the "Mounties") are the federal and national police service of Canada, providing law enforcement at the federal level. The RCMP also provide provincial policing in eight of Canada's provinces (all except Ontario and Quebec) and local policing on a contract basis in the three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon) and more than 150 municipalities, 600 Indigenous communities, and three international airports. The RCMP do not provide active provincial or municipal policing in Ontario or Quebec.[10] However, all members of the RCMP have jurisdiction as a peace officer in all provinces and territories of Canada.[11] Despite the name, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are no longer an actual mounted police service, with horses only being used at ceremonial events.

As Canada's national police service, the RCMP are primarily responsible for enforcing federal laws throughout Canada, whereas 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 the Sûreté du Québec. The other eight provinces contract policing responsibilities to the RCMP, which 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 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 some 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 on smaller scales there). Federal operations include: enforcing federal laws including commercial crime, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, border integrity (excluding border control responsibilities exercised by the Canada Border Services Agency), 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.

It was Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald who 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. Macdonald received his inspiration for the creation of the RCMP from the Royal Irish Constabulary, the quasi-military police force of Ireland from 1822 to 1922.[12][13] 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". 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.[14]

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.[15] The Chinese community was also targeted because of disproportionate links 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.[16] 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 attendance of Indigenous children at schools within the Canadian Indian residential school system schools, designed to assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture.

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 saw the men, vehicles and vessels of the Customs Preventive Service, National Revenue, absorbed by the RCMP. This created the Marine Section and the Excise Section.[17] 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).[18]

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.[19]

In June 1953, the RCMP became a full member of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).[20]

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.[21]

The RCMP Security Service was a specialized political intelligence and counterintelligence branch with national security responsibilities, replaced by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 1984, following revelations of illegal covert operations relating to the Quebec separatist movement.[22] CSIS is not part of the RCMP, but is its own entity. 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 , better known as the "McDonald Commission", named for the presiding judge, Justice David Cargill McDonald. The commission recommended that the force's intelligence duties be removed in favour of the creation of a separate intelligence agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The RCMP and CSIS nonetheless continue to share responsibility for some law enforcement activities in the contemporary era, particularly in the anti-terrorism context.[23]

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.[24]

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 . In the aftermath of the Arar affair, the Commission of Inquiry recommended that the RCMP be subject to greater oversight from a review board with investigative and information-sharing capacities.[25] Following the Commission of Inquiry's recommendations, the Harper government tabled amendments to the RCMP Act to create the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.[25]

Two officers were found guilty of perjury and sentenced to jail for their actions in the 2007 Robert Dziekański Taser incident in Vancouver.

In 2007, the RCMP was named Newsmaker of the Year by The Canadian Press.[26]

On June 3, 2013, the RCMP renamed its 'A' Division to National Division and tasked it with handling corruption cases "at home and abroad".[27]

The RCMP also has an aviation security division, the Sky Marshals.[28]

RCMP in dress uniform Canada Day 2015 on Saint Catherine Street, Montreal

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.[32][33] 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[34] 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,[33] 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, it only became official in 1904.

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,[why?] 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.[35] 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[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

The operational uniform is a grey shirt, dark blue trousers with gold stripping, 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 short-sleeved shirt. Winter dress is a long-sleeved shirt. A tie is worn on occasion for events such as testifying in court. In colder weather, members may wear heavier boots, winter coats (storm coats) and a muskrat fur cap or wool toque.

In 1990, Baltej Singh Dhillon became the RCMP's first Sikh officer to be allowed to wear a turban instead of the traditional Stetson.[36] 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.

The monarch awards the 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.[37]

In the 1920s, Saskatchewan provincial pathologist Frances Gertrude McGill began providing forensic assistance to the RCMP in their investigations.[38] She helped establish the first RCMP forensic laboratory in 1937,[39] 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.[38] 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.[40]

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.

After initially wearing different uniforms, female 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.[41]) The second exception is the official maternity uniform for pregnant female officers assigned to administrative duties.

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.

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.[50][51] 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.[52]

In 1975, the RCMP dedicated a memorial beside the Fred Light Museum in Battleford, Saskatchewan, consisting of a cemetery with gate, cairn and list of honour plaque to the members of the North-West Mounted Police (1873–1904) and the RCMP.[53]

The RCMP International Operations Branch (IOB) assists the Liaison Officer (LO) Program to deter international crime relating to Canadian criminal laws. The IOB is a section of the International Policing, which is part of the RCMP Federal and International Operations Directorate. Thirty-seven Liaison Officers are placed in 23 other countries and are responsible for organizing Canadian investigations in other countries, developing and maintaining the exchange of criminal intelligence, especially national security with other countries, to provide assistance in investigations that directly affect Canada, to coordinate and assist RCMP officers on foreign business and to represent the RCMP at international meetings.[54] Liaison Officers are located in:

The RCMP was a member agency in the Afghan Threat Finance Cell, and RCMP officers were embedded with military units in Afghanistan.[55]

The RCMP is organized under the authority of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (RCMP Act), an act of the Parliament of Canada. Pursuant to sections 3 and 4 of the RCMP Act, the RCMP is a police force for Canada—namely, a federal police force.[56] However, section 20 of the RCMP Act provides that the RCMP may be used for law enforcement in provinces or municipalities if certain conditions are met.[57] As explained by Justice Ivan Rand of the Supreme Court of Canada, "what is set up is a police force for the whole of Canada to be used in the enforcement of the laws of the Dominion, but at the same time available for the enforcement of law generally in such provinces as may desire to employ its services."[58]

Pursuant to section 5 of the RCMP Act,[59] the agency is headed by the commissioner of the RCMP, who, under the direction of the , has the control and management of the force and all matters connected therewith. The RCMP is provided with a senior executive committee (SEC) which[60]

is the senior decision making forum established by the Commissioner for the development and approval of strategic, force-wide policies, pursuant to and consistent with the Commissioner's authority under section 5 of the RCMP Act. The role of [the] SEC is to develop, promote and communicate strategic priorities, strategic objectives, management strategies and performance management for the purpose of direction and accountability.

The commissioner is assisted by deputy commissioners in charge of:[61]

The RCMP divides the country into divisions for command purposes. In general, each division is coterminous with a province (for example, C Division is Quebec). The province of Ontario, however, is divided into two divisions: National Division (Ottawa) and O Division (rest of the province). There is one additional division – Depot Division, which is the RCMP Academy at Regina, Saskatchewan, and the Police Dog Service Training Centre[62] at Innisfail, Alberta. The RCMP headquarters are located in Ottawa, Ontario.

A detachment is a section of the RCMP which polices a local area. Detachments vary greatly in size. The largest single RCMP detachment is in the city of Surrey in British Columbia, with over a thousand employees. Surrey has contracted with the RCMP for policing services since 1951.[75] The second-largest RCMP detachment is in Burnaby, also in British Columbia.[76] Conversely, detachments in small, isolated rural communities have as few as three officers. The RCMP formerly had many single-officer detachments in these areas,[77][78] but in 2012 the RCMP announced that it was introducing a requirement that detachments should have at least three officers.[78]

The Personal Protection Group or PPG is a 180-member group responsible for security details for VIPs, the prime minister, and the governor general.[79] It was created after the 1995 incident at 24 Sussex Drive.[80]

An RCMP chief superintendent (foreground) attends the opening of an Operational Integration Centre, alongside representatives of US counterpart agencies.

As of April 1, 2019, the RCMP employed 30,196 men and women, including police officers, civilian members, and Public Service Employees.[7]

The term regular member, or RM, originates from the RCMP Act and refers to the 18,988 regular RCMP officers who are trained and sworn as peace officers, and include all the ranks from constable to commissioner. They are the police officers of the RCMP and are responsible for investigating crime and have the authority to make arrests. RMs operate in over 750 detachments, including 200 municipalities and more than 600 Indigenous communities. RMs are normally assigned to general policing duties at an RCMP detachment for a minimum of three years. These duties allow them to experience a broad range of assignments and experiences, such as responding to emergency (9-1-1) calls, foot patrol, bicycle patrol, traffic enforcement, collecting evidence at crime scenes, testifying in court, apprehending criminals and plain clothes duties. Regular members also serve in over 150 different types of operational and administrative opportunities available within the RCMP, these include: major crime investigations, emergency response, forensic identification, forensic collision reconstruction, international peacekeeping, bike or marine patrol, explosives disposal and police dog services. Also included are administrative roles including human resources, corporate planning, policy analysis and public affairs.

Besides the regular RCMP officers, several types of designations exist which give them assorted powers and responsibilities over policing issues.

Employees of the 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 Indigenous person might be appointed a special constable in order to assist regular members as they police an Indigenous community where English is not well understood, and where the special constable speaks the language well. They still perform this role today in many isolated northern communities and the RCMP has 122 special constables who are active in the RCMP today, and they are drawn almost entirely from the same Indigenous communities that they serve.
From the early years of policing in northern Canada, and well into the 1950s, local Indigenous peoples were hired by the RCMP as special constables and were employed as guides and to obtain 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.
While not delegated the powers of police officers, they are instead 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.

Also referred to as public servants, PSes or PSEs, they provide much of the administrative support for the RCMP in the form of detachment clerks and other administrative support at the headquarters level. They are not police officers, do not wear a uniform, have no police authority and are not bound by the RCMP Act.

Abbreviated as "ME" they are found in RCMP detachments where a contract exists with a municipality to provide front-line policing. MEs are not actually employees of the RCMP, but are instead employed by the local municipality to work in the RCMP detachment. They conduct the same duties that a PSE would and are required to meet the same reliability and security clearance to do so. Many detachment buildings house a combination of municipally and provincially funded detachments, and therefore there are often PSEs and MEs found working together in them.

The rank system of the RCMP is partly a result of their origin as a paramilitary force. Upon its founding, the RCMP adopted the rank insignia of the Canadian Army (which in turn came from the British Army), which is almost identical to that of the current Canadian Army. Like in a military, the RCMP also has a distinction between commissioned and non-commissioned officers.[92] The non-commissioned ranks are mostly based on military ranks (apart from constable). Non-commissioned officer ranks above staff sergeant resemble those that formerly existed in the Canadian Army, but have since been replaced by warrant officers.[93] The commissioned officer ranks, by contrast, use a set of non-military titles that are often used in Commonwealth police services. The number of higher ranks like chief superintendent and deputy commissioner have been added on and increased since the formation of the force, while the lower commissioned rank of sub-inspector has been dropped.

[95] These are the official abbreviations for the commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the RCMP.[96][97]

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 pre-1968 Canadian 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 122 special constables, as well as a varying number of reserve constables, auxiliary constables, and students who wear identifying insignia.

The star, or "pip", used in the insignia of commissioned officers represents the military Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. The Order's motto (tria juncta in uno, "three joined in one", referring to the holy trinity) is inscribed in a band in the middle of it. The three crowns inset in the centre not only represent the Christian Trinity, but also the three former kingdoms that became the United Kingdom. The RCMP formerly had subaltern (junior officer) ranks that were indicated by one "pip" for a sub-inspector (equivalent to an army second lieutenant) to three "pips" for an inspector (equivalent to an army captain).[98] A reorganization in 1960 changed the insignia to three "pips" for sub-inspectors[99] and a crown for inspectors,[100] making the latter a field officer rank. The rank of sub-inspector was abolished in 1990, leaving the RCMP with no subaltern ranks.

A royal crown is used in the regimental cap badge and the insignia of senior commissioned officers. In 1955 St. Edward's Crown replaced the Tudor Crown. Although Queen Elizabeth II had adopted the redesign of the heraldic crown in 1953, it took some time to design, approve, and manufacture the new insignia.

The crossed Mameluke sabre and baton is the insignia for general officers. In the RCMP it designates the commissioner (equivalent to an Army general) and their subordinate deputy commissioners (equivalent to Army lieutenant-generals). The assistant commissioners use the crown-over-three-pips insignia of an Army brigadier.

The brass shoulder title pin on the epaulettes was changed from "RCMP" to "GRC-RCMP" in 1968. (GRC stands for Gendarmerie royale du Canada, the RCMP's French-language title). This was due to a 1968 ruling stating that all statutes had to be published bilingually in both English and French. As a law enforcement agency, the RCMP had to use ranks and titles in both languages. This was later reinforced by the Official Languages Act.

The RCMP polices Canadian Internal Waters, including the territorial sea and contiguous zone as well as the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway; such operations are provided by the RCMP's Federal Services Directorate and includes enforcing Canada's environment, fisheries, customs and immigration laws. In provinces and municipalities where the RCMP performs contract policing, the force polices freshwater lakes and rivers.

To meet these challenges, the RCMP operates the Marine Division, with five Robert Allan Ltd.–designed high-speed catamaran patrol vessels; Inkster and the Commissioner-class Nadon, Higgitt, Lindsay and Simmonds, based on all three coasts and manned by officers specially trained in maritime enforcement. Inkster is based in Prince Rupert, BC, Simmonds is stationed on Newfoundland's south coast, and the rest are on the Pacific Coast.[102] Simmonds' livery is unique, in that it sports the RCMP badge, but is otherwise painted with Canadian Coast Guard colours and the marking Coast Guard Police. The other four vessels are painted with blue and white RCMP colours.

The RCMP operates 377 smaller boats, defined as vessels less than 9.2 m (30 ft) long, at locations across Canada. This category ranges from canoes and car toppers to rigid-hulled inflatables and stable, commercially built, inboard-outboard vessels. Individual detachments often have smaller high-speed rigid-hulled inflatable boats and other purpose-built vessels for inland waters, some of which can be hauled by road to the nearest launching point.[102]

As of December 2018 the RCMP had 34 aircraft (8 helicopters and 26 fixed-wing aircraft) registered with Transport Canada.[9] The new Airbus H145 is still currently registered to Airbus. All aircraft are operated and maintained by the Air Services Branch.

Because of procurement problems with the Beaumont–Adams revolvers, constables sometimes carried their own sidearms chambered in a standard service caliber.

In 1973, Wilkinson Sword produced a number of commemorative swords to celebrate the RCMP centennial. None of these swords were ever used ceremonially, and were strictly collectibles. Wilkinson Sword also made a commemorative centennial tomahawk and miniature "letter opener" models of their centennial swords.

In 1973, Winchester Repeating Arms Company produced an RCMP commemorative centennial version of their Model 94 rifle in .30-30 Winchester, with a 22 in (560 mm) round barrel. The receiver, buttplate, and forend cap (on the musket-style forend) were plated in gold. Commemorative medallions were embedded in the right-hand side of the stock, with an "MP" engraving. There was engraving on the barrel and receiver indicating the rifle was a centennial commemorative edition. Sights were open notch rear, with a flip-up rear ladder, graduated to 2,000 yd (1,800 m). Two versions were produced, 9500 with serial numbers beginning "RCMP" for commercial sale, 5000 with the prefix "MP" sold only to serving RCMP members. In addition, ten presentation models were produced, serialled RCMP1P to RCMP10P. (The production of this commemorative is ironic, since the Winchester 94 was never used by the RCMP.)[115]

Canadian flag carried by RCMP at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver

The Mounties have been immortalized as symbols of Canadian culture in numerous Hollywood Northwestern 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. The RCMP's motto is actually the French Maintiens le droit, which has been translated into the English "Defending the Law" or "Maintain the right".[116][45][47] The Hollywood motto derives from a comment by a Montana newspaper, the Fort Benton Record: "They fetch their man every time".[117] The RCMP Sunset Ceremony (French: Cérémonie du crépuscule) has taken place every summer since 1989 at the Musical Ride Centre in Ottawa,[118][119] with it in recent years featuring the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band and the Governor General's Foot Guards Band.[120][121]

In 1912, Ralph Connor's appeared, becoming an international best-selling novel. Mounties 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.

Corporal Cameron of the North-West Mounted Police: A Tale of the MacLeod Trail

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, as is Klondike Kat, from Total Television. 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.

Bruce Carruthers (b.1901–d.1953), a former Mounted Police corporal (1919–1923), served as an unofficial technical advisor to Hollywood in many films with RCMP characters.[122] They included Heart of the North (1938), Susannah of the Mounties (1939), Northern Pursuit (1943), Gene Autry and The Mounties (1951), The Wild North (1952), and The Pony Soldier (1952).

In 1959, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired R.C.M.P., a half-hour dramatic series about an RCMP detachment keeping the peace and fighting crime. Filmed in black and white, in and around Ottawa by Crawley Films, the series was co-produced with the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and ran for 39 episodes. It was noted for its pairing of Québécois and Anglo officers.

Canadians also poke fun at the RCMP with Sergeant Renfrew and his faithful dog Cuddles in various sketches produced by the Royal Canadian Air Farce comedy troupe. On That '70s Show Mounties were played by SCTV alumni Joe Flaherty and Dave Thomas. The British have also exploited the myth: the BBC television series Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a group of Mounties singing the chorus in The Lumberjack Song in the lumberjack sketch.

The 1972–90 CBC series The Beachcombers features a character named Constable John Constable who attempts to enforce the law in the town of Gibsons, British Columbia.

In comic books, the Marvel Comics characters of Alpha Flight are described on several occasions as "RCMP auxiliaries," and two of their members, Snowbird and the second Major Mapleleaf are depicted as serving members of the force. In the latter case, due to trademark issues, Major Mapleleaf is described as a "Royal Canadian Mountie" in the opening roll call pages of each issue of Alpha Flight he appears in.

Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin starred in the 1981 movie Death Hunt that fictionalized the RCMP pursuit of Albert Johnson.

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 features 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.

The 1994–98 TV series Due South pairs Mountie Constable Benton Fraser with streetwise American detective Ray Vecchio cleaning up the streets of Chicago. It mainly derives its entertainment from the perceived differences in attitude and culture between these two countries' police forces. Fraser is depicted as honest and polite to a fault, even refusing to carry a loaded sidearm when "assisting" Detective Vecchio, but almost superhuman in his abilities for thwarting crime.

A pair of Mounties staff 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, is about events in the mostly indigenous community, but the Mounties feature prominently in each episode.

Another TV series from the 1990s, Bordertown features an NWMP corporal paired with a U.S. marshal securing law and order on a frontier U.S.–Canada border town. In the ABC TV mini-series Answered by Fire, at least three mounties are featured. Mounties also appear in the TV series When Calls the Heart (Hallmark Channel).

The 1987 Brian De Palma film The Untouchables features cooperation between the Treasury Department task force, led by Eliot Ness, and the Mounties against liquor smuggling across the Canada–United States border.

The 1995 album C'est Cheese by Canadian musical comedy group The Arrogant Worms includes "The Mountie Song", which tells the story of a dissatisfied Mountie.

In his 1999, album Soiree Newfoundland musician A. Frank Willis included "Savage Cop in Savage Cove" which was based on a true story and went on to become a big hit.[123]

Conan O'Brien brought his late night show to Toronto in February 2004. O'Brien spent a day as a Royal Canadian Mountie at the Canada–United States border.

From 2011, the CTV fantasy drama series The Listener regularly features characters who work for the Integrated Investigative Bureau, a fictional division of the RCMP that brings together various specialists, officers and civilian consultants to work on high-profile or federal cases. Although characters in the employ of the IIB are rarely, if ever, depicted wearing uniform, they are often addressed by their ranks – two main characters are Sergeant Michelle McClusky and Corporal Dev Clark.

There are products and merchandise that are made in the image of the RCMP, like Mounties statues or hats. Before 1995, the RCMP had little control over these products.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police received an international licence on April 1, 1995, requiring those who use the RCMP to pay a licensing fee. Proceeds from the fees are used for community awareness programmes.[124] 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" and the character in the Dudley Do-Right film did not wear accurate insignia.

Through a Master Licensing Agreement (MLA) with the RCMP, the RCMP Foundation is responsible for managing the commercial use of the RCMP name, image, and protected marks.[125] The foundation issues selected companies a royalty-based agreement allowing them to produce and market high-quality official RCMP merchandise. Walt Disney Co. (Canada) Ltd. was contracted to aid in the initial set up of the licensing program[126] but Disney never owned or controlled any of the RCMP's protected marks.

Following the expiration of the Disney contract in 2000, all responsibilities and activities were taken over by the executive director and his staff, reporting to the foundation president and board of directors. In 2007, through a decree signed by Commissioner Beverley Busson, the operating name was changed to the "Royal Canadian Mounted Police Foundation".

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.

Although the official band of the RCMP has disbanded, several small RCMP pipe bands such as this one still remain.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Band (French: La Musique de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada) was the RCMP's central musical ensemble. It was considered one of the best professional bands assembled in Canada.[127][128] Although it was an official regimental band, the members worked in the band as a secondary job. It is generally considered to have begun in 1938, though there were various police bands in the RCMP that flourished at the time, leading the Canadian government granting approval for the creation of a full-time central band in December 1958, with its headquarters in the capital of Ottawa.[129][128] Appearances made by the band included Expo 86 and the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver, the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, as well as the visits of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth II in 1990.[128][127] It was dissolved in 1994 due to government budget cuts.

In its 55 year existence, it operated as a voluntary regimental band, with its members working with it as a secondary job apart from their other duties in the RCMP. Members of the band wore the RCMP's notable Red Serge as part of their full dress uniform and adopted drill seen in Canadian military bands and bands in the British Army. Its longest serving director was Superintendent Edwin Joseph Lydall who served from 1948 to 1968.[130]

Today, instead of brass and reed bands, the RCMP sports eight regional pipe bands across the major cities of the 10 provinces. The first of these bands were established in 1992 in Alberta.[131] The following are the locations of the regional volunteer pipe bands:

These bands act as "garrison bands" for the provincial division, and attend parades, police ceremonies, and public events.[134]

The RCMP has since 1998 had its own distinctive tartan. The creation of the tartan was the result of a committee created in the early 1990s to create a tartan by its 125th anniversary. Upon approval from commissioner Phillip Murray, the tartan was registered with the Scottish Tartans Society and presented to the agency by Anne, Princess Royal during her royal visit to Canada in 1998. The tartan appeared for the first time by a RCMP pipe band at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in July and August 1998.[135]

American historian Andrew Graybill has argued that the RCMP historically resembled the Texas Rangers in many ways. He argues that each protected the established order by confining and removing Indigenous peoples; tightly controlling the mixed blood peoples (the African Americans in Texas and the Métis in Canada); assisting the large-scale ranchers against the small-scale ranchers and farmers who fenced the land; and breaking the power of labour unions that tried to organize the workers of industrial corporations.[136]

The RCMP 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.[137] The RCMP has also provided training overseas in Iraq and other peace-keeping missions.

In October 2016, the RCMP issued an apology for harassment, discrimination, and sexual abuse of female officers and civilian members. Additionally they set aside a $100 million fund to compensate these victims. Over 20,000 current and past female employees that were employed after 1974 are eligible.[138]

In 2019, The Guardian revealed that RCMP commanders had advocated the use of “lethal overwatch”—i.e., officers equipped with firearms—while clearing protesters to grant TC Energy access to the lands of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in order to construct the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.[139]

Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation was arrested by two RCMP officers on March 10, 2020 in Fort McMurray, Alberta.[140][141] After several minutes of Chief Adam yelling and posturing at officers, the officers tackled him and punched him in the head whilst struggling with him on the ground. Chief Adam was later charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer, but the charges were subsequently dropped.[142] After watching the video of the arrest, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "[w]e have all now seen the shocking video of Chief Adam's arrest and we must get to the bottom of this".[143][140][144] Following the revelation of Chief Adam's arrest—as well as several other recent instances in which RCMP officers had assaulted or killed Indigenous people[145]—RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki stated, after initially demurring on the question, that systemic racism exists in the RCMP: "I do know that systemic racism is part of every institution, the RCMP included," she said.[146] One day earlier, Prime Minister Trudeau had also stated that "[s]ystemic racism is an issue right across the country, in all our institutions, including in all our police forces, including in the RCMP."[147]

In April 2020, the RCMP was strongly condemned for its response to the 2020 Nova Scotia attacks, the deadliest rampage in Canadian history,[148] as well as their transparency in the criminal investigation. CBC News' television program The Fifth Estate and online newspaper Halifax Examiner analyzed the timeline of events, and both observed a myriad of failures and shortcomings in the RCMP response.[149][150][151] A criminologist criticised the RCMP's response as "a mess" and called for an overhaul in how the agency responds to active shooter situations, after they had failed to properly respond to other such incidents in the past.[152]