Alberta RCMP. Black Press file photo.

Building a foundation for an RCMP career

This is the first in a series of stories looking at the RCMP members who serve in the rural areas of Alberta

By Kevin J. Sabo

For the Advance

Your alarm goes off at five in the morning, and you can’t reach it fast enough.

Yet, you don’t let yourself slide back to sleep. Instead, you get up and start your day. Your six months of training at RCMP Depot, in Regina, Saskatchewan, is nearly over.

As of 2021 there are over 20,000 RCMP members serving across Canada.

Of that number, around 3300 serve in “K” Division (Alberta). Each member that serves has gone through Depot, the RCMP’s rigorous, six-month, training detachment in Saskatchewan.

“Depot is like a college that wants you to pass,” said Cst. David Van Dalen.

“They (don’t) invest that much money into you for you to fail out three months in.”

While certain aspects of the training members receive in Depot is kept confidential for operational reasons, Van Dalen, and several other members of the Coronation RCMP Detachment were willing to talk a bit about their experiences.

“The general overview of Depot is, it teaches you the very basics of policing,” said Van Dalen.

Some of the basics taught at the school include scenarios, basic policies, handcuffing techniques, interview techniques, and defensive techniques.

“Everything is scheduled,” said Van Dalen. “We’re a paramilitary organization, we follow a lot of what the Canadian Military set out.”

Students attending Depot are organized into troops.

At the beginning of the six months, each troop starts with 32 members, though invariably, some drop out along the way for a variety of reasons. The students work together and help each through the training.

Days start early, at 5 a.m. most days.

Classes run Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The students running the training then have homework to do, as well as fitness training.

“Your day starts at 5 a.m. and ends at ten or eleven at night,” said Van Dalen.

“It is six months of very long Mondays to Fridays. On weekends, you are still practicing and doing fitness, all so you can get the job offer at the end of Depot. It is a fast-paced learning environment.”

If candidates are struggling through the training, instructors will work with them to see them succeed.

In some cases, the candidate could be rolled back to another troop.

“Depot taught me to hang up my ego in the locker room when I’m gearing up,” said four-year RCMP member Yasser Mostafa.

“Depot is there to teach you the basics. The foundation is the same across the board. We gave you the basics, now you have to build on it.”

Candidates who successfully navigate the six months of intensive training at Depot will be given an assignment, anywhere in the country, to complete the second half of the year-long process to become an RCMP member.

This is the first in a series of stories looking at the RCMP members who serve in the rural areas of Alberta.