Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive May 7, 2016)

RCMP Recruiting – Cause and Effect 


By Bob Cooper



RCMP changes outdated recruitment rules

The last sentence in this story pretty much says it all.  

These changes are designed to attract applicants, or more to the point, the ‘right’ applicants (women, visible minorities, etc.).  But don’t worry, the public is told, because “standards won’t be compromised”.   Remember those words when you read the last part.  Very telling is the decision not to provide any interviews on the “modernization” of the recruiting process.  Methinks they don’t want to deal with questions about ‘quotas’, etc. or provide stock footage for the media to use when the inevitable disaster occurs.  Smart move. 

The RCMP claim that the shortage of applicants is due mainly to extra workload because of manpower shortages as well as low pay which is absolutely true but what never gets mentioned is ‘the other thing’.  That being the steady stream of scandals and negative stories over the last couple of decades running the gamut from criminal activity and serious lapses in ethics and judgement to bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.  The damage this has done to the RCMP’s reputation is a far more serious factor in discouraging applicants, particularly women.  Traditionally the RCMP always made less money than we did and they were well aware of the hardships that went with certain postings but young men & women still lined up around the country to join.  

The announced changes include exempting those with 2 years of college from writing the RCMP entrance exam, not administering the Physical Abilities test until recruits arrive at Depot, and hiring Landed Immigrants as long as the applicant has lived in Canada for 10 years.  The entrance exam is not an IQ Test.  It’s designed to test for those specific skills and competencies required by police officers so why do a couple of years of college get you a pass?  Delaying the Physical Abilities test just makes no sense at all.  This is a ‘pass or fail’ situation and should be one of the first tests administered in order to weed out those who can’t pass it.  

The hiring of Landed Immigrants isn’t a big deal to me.  VPD has had that standard since the early 90s.  When I joined in 1974 applicants had to be Canadian citizens or British subjects which at that time covered a lot of foreign countries.  Mostly they hired cops from the UK but any doubt was always resolved in favor of the department. 

None of the foregoing is the end of the earth but there are a couple of very troubling aspects of the recruiting process not mentioned in any mainstream press articles.  I discovered the first in speaking to former Mounties while the second is posted on the RCMP’s website for all to see.  Apparently, in an effort to cut costs interviews with references supplied by applicants are now conducted by telephone.  The person you are interviewing is invariably a friend or associate of the applicant.  They may have significant information concerning the applicant’s suitability and may not realize it or will deliberately conceal it out of loyalty.  Even in an intimate face to face setting it can be very difficult for the interviewer to get the person past this and convince them of the need to avoid hiring dishonest applicants or those with serious character flaws.  Any professional interviewer worth their salt will tell you this is insane. 

The other is a requirement that applicants not have been convicted of any criminal offense for which a pardon has not been issued.  Fair enough.  Then you read a little further and find this caveat:


Participated in any criminal behaviour or activity – whether you have been arrested and/or charged or not – within at least one (1) year of the date of application.

Criminal behaviours and activities include, but are not limited to, non-medical drug/steroids use, theft, prostitution, solicitation for the purpose of prostitution, assault, and impaired driving.

For all past actions, some of the things we consider in determining suitability are:

•How serious was it?

•How often did you behave this way?

•Under what circumstances, what was the situation, where this happened?

•What was your intent?

•Do you regret it?

•How much time has passed since this behaviour occurred, or when the offence was committed?

•How old were you at the time?

•How have you behaved since that time, or since the time of the last incident?


Well, thank goodness.  For a moment I thought they were going to compromise their standards.  Sorry, but there are situations on this job that would entice the most honest man let alone those who’ve already demonstrated a problem resisting temptation or making good choices.  There can’t be a sliding scale because the risk is just too great.  Taking people with sketchy backgrounds will always come back to bite you and usually sooner rather than later.  A blind man could see what’s going on here and it all has to do with achieving artificial ‘diversity’ goals.  I recall a time when the overarching qualification to join the RCMP was ‘exemplary character’.  ‘So 1960s’ I guess.

The ‘Cause and Effect’ lesson that’s been completely lost here is that the RCMP have the problems they do because of their recruiting practices particularly in the 80s and 90s and common sense would suggest that the answer is not to go back and make those same mistakes again.

This isn’t the Grade 6 soccer team.  Not everyone gets to play.  Like any commodity, exclusivity increases value.  Membership in the RCMP, once treasured, has again been cheapened by PC politicians and bosses that won’t stand up to them.


Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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