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Troop 17: Women in the RCMP

For the Week of Monday, February 27, 2017

On March 3, 1975, Troop 17, the first female troop of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, graduated from training at the RCMP Academy “Depot” Division in Regina, Saskatchewan.

While in training, Troop 17 learned marching, shooting, self-defence techniques, and various other aspects of law-enforcement
© Royal Canadian Mounted Police, from http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/trials-and-training-life-depot-troop-17

Since the 1890s, women have worked in different roles for federal law-enforcement. Initially hired as jail matrons to tend female prisoners in remote detachments, RCMP wives also took care of secretarial work, feeding and tending to prisoners, and providing lodgings to visiting specialists and officials. In the 1900s, women began to work as communications and laboratory staff for the RCMP, and as interpreters.

The women of Troop 17 overcame many challenges including constant media attention, public criticism, and resistance by other officers to their entry. They built their own reputation of excellence, challenging prevailing ideas of physical inferiority and overall capability. The members of Troop 17 lead distinguished careers as RCMP officers. Cheryl Joyce went on to serve as the National Restorative Justice Coordinator and Bev Busson became the first female Commissioner of the RCMP.

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Sgt. Regan Douglas, the RCMP’s first and only female bomb technician and instructor. She holds a permanent position on the Explosive Devices Unit
© Royal Canadian Mounted Police, from http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/breaking-glass-ceiling-starting-detachment-floor

With the ability to become RCMP officers, women were able to enter other fields including undercover narcotics and commercial fraud investigations. Since 1975, women have joined numerous specialized units including the Underwater Recovery Team, Emergency Response Team, and the Explosive Devices Unit. Chris Mackie and Joan Merk were the first women to participate in the RCMP’s iconic musical ride in 1981. Jennifer Johnstone, who joined the RCMP in 2001, began her second term as President of the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts in 2014. She was the first non-U.S. member to hold the position.

The Buildings at RCMP “Depot” Division are recognized federal heritage buildings and the Creation of the North West Mounted Police is a designated national historic event. To learn more about the RCMP see The Mounties at Lower Fort Garry and The Establishment of a National Police Force in the This Week in History archives.

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