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Law enforcement in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RCMP - GRC Police Sign
RCMP - GRC Police Sign

Law enforcement in Canada are public-sector police forces that are associated with and commissioned to the three levels of government: municipal (both lower and upper-tier), provincial, and federal. Most urban areas have been given the authority by the provinces to maintain their own police force. All but two of Canada's provinces in turn, contract out their provincial law-enforcement responsibilities to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (popularly known in English-speaking areas as the Mounties), the national police force, which is commissioned to the federal level of government. In addition, many First Nations Reserves have their own police forces established through agreements between the governing native band, province and the federal government with 50,000 members.[citation needed]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ American Cops vs Canadian Cops
  • ✪ Law enforcement in Canada
  • ✪ What Should I Know Before Pursuing a Career as a Police Officer?


The USA has long been called “The Land of Opportunity” but there are many people these days that will tell you the American Dream has for a long time been less of a reality. Canada on the other is often depicted as an easier place to have an existence. It’s a country with far less of a divide between the rich and poor, and you’ll still find it on best Quality of Life lists somewhere in the top ten. At the same time the USA makes headlines for such things as having worryingly high crimes rates for a developed nation, incredibly high incarceration rates and a healthcare system that might bankrupt its own citizens. We might be being harsh here, and we certainly aren’t saying Canada is utopia. Alright. So, you want to be a cop in the USA. You’ve done your research, meaning you’ve seen The Wire, watched all episodes of NYPD Blue and even stayed up late to watch reruns of Columbo and Cagney and Lacey. You are basically ready to hit the streets. Right? Well, we should tell you a few things about what you need to do to become a police officer in America. The good news is that you don’t have to be a genius to land the job. It’s open to most people, so long as you have some brain power and didn’t spend your teens doing hits for the Mexican Mafia. You can get a law enforcement degree and this should land you the better jobs, but you can also apply to be a cop after high school. So, to get in you will need a high school diploma or a GED, which is considered equal to that diploma. After that you will be interviewed and have background checks. If you have a minor offense you still may get in. You may not have to be super fit, but you will likely have to be relatively fit. Once you get into the academy you have to pass some kind of entrance exam, such as the Law Enforcement Examination. You’ll then start your training. You’ll also have to pass a fitness test, or the Police Physical Abilities Test. These tests can change depending on where you are training, but you’ll mostly have to show you can sprint reasonably fast and be able to run 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in anywhere from 16 to 20 minutes. But you’ll have to show your strength by doing a fairly tricky obstacle course, and on top of that you’ll have to do around 20 pushups in one minute and 30 sit-ups in a minute. As we said, this can change depending on the academy. Let’s just say, you’ll have to be fairly fit to pass but by no means have to be an exceptional athlete. Training will last round 30 weeks and even after you’ve passed you’ll be put on probation for up to 18 months at the department where you’ll be working. Over in Canada, you can also start training at age 18, but you cannot hit the streets until you are nineteen. You’ll also need a high school diploma or the equivalent, and during the interview process will have to show good health, both mental and physical. On its website, the RCMP says turning up to the interview looking like you’ve done nothing but eat donuts and played Grand Theft Auto throughout high school will put you at a distinct disadvantage. You’ll also have background checks and again a very small infraction in life might not mean you cannot get in. Pass the interview and off you’ll go to training school for 26 weeks. Yes, again there will be written tests that should not challenge most who have done ok in high school. As for the fitness test, you need to do the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation that will consist of doing an obstacle course, push ups and pulls ups, and a weight carry, all under a time of 5 minutes and 30 seconds or less. That’s at the start of training. At the end you’ll have to be able to do that same test in less than four minutes.’ So, now you are in the force. What’s it like? Well, first of all how much are you being paid? The amount fluctuates across the USA, but PayScale in 2017 said the average was $44,000 a year for the first zero to five years as a rookie cop. Other sites tell us the starting salary for most cops is closer to $30,000 and it will increase by the year. That might go up to $50,000 between your fifth and tenth year but it depends on how well you do. Where you are matters a lot, with sources telling us the average wage for cops in California is considerably more than double the average for cops in Mississippi. As for Canada, you can check out the job site Indeed and see police officer positions with a yearly wage of around $60,000 – after we converted from Canadian dollars. Again, it depends on where you work, but PayScale tells us the average salary when you just join the force is around $37,000. Just like in the US, that can easily go up to $50,000 after a few years. It seems the wages for US cops and Canadian cops are not dramatically different, but which country would be better to work in? We are told that a big difference in policing is the fact that Canada has a federal criminal code, while in the US things change from state to state. This means in Canada training and procedures are the same all over, which can make life easier. One website tells us that in Canada the money for the police force comes from taxes, while in the US part of the money comes from the tickets people have to pay. That website tells us this has led to a stricter kind of policing in the US, as the force needs to make money. We are told in Canada they call it a police service, while in the US it’s called a police force. Canadians adopt a kind community policing, while in the US the cops are perhaps less part of their communities. Then there’s the matter of higher crime rates in the US. We’ll let an expert explain: “Canadians often point to a single major difference between our two cultures as a starting point: Guns are far more easily available in the United States than in Canada. This environment leads to a tense situation for any police officer, no matter how polite he or she may wish to appear.” And this means the US police are not only in more danger but tend to use a bit more force. We’ve all seen the videos of perhaps rather over-the-top policing. We might also say that officers in some parts of the US are under tremendous stress, given the number of guns on the streets. We are told that US officers use lethal force about 6 times more than the average Canadian cop. The Washington Post told us that in 2015 US police shot and killed close to 1,000 people while in Canada that number on average is about 15 people a year. Unless you are mentally unhinged, killing people is something you certainly don’t want to do, and in the US as a police officer it’s much more likely that you will. We are told that in 2018, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 149 deaths of officers occurred in the line of duty. Most were shootings, but cops also perish in car crashes while performing their duties and other ways. Some deaths might just have been accidents, but we are told firearms were involved in most deaths. In comparison, the Canadian Broadcasting Association looked at the Canadian police memorial statistics and told us in 2018, “Since 1975, a total of 284 police officers have died on the job. Of these, 101 were homicide victims, while 88 were killed in vehicle accidents — often while rushing to respond to a call in poor road conditions.” We can certainly say that officers in the US have the more dangerous job, by a long way. So, you are getting a similar wage, but have more chance of killing someone and more chance of being killed. You are also more likely to have to use force and adopt a more aggressive style of policing, all of which would likely make your job more stressful in the US. That stress is killing officers in the US, we are told. One study cited by Men’s Health said the number of officers that took their own lives in 2016 was way more than those who were shot. “There is not enough conversation about mental health within police and fire departments,” said the study. It depends where you are of course. A recent study by the Department of Justice for instance said that the suicide rate in the Chicago Police Department was 60 percent higher than the US average. One officer who worked for the Fresno Police Department said over his 35-year career he counted 14 of his colleagues that took their own lives on the job. Apparently, getting the number of officers who do that after retiring is not easy to do. USA Today also reported in 2018 that more officers took their own lives (148) than died in the line of duty. We can likely deduce that being a cop in the USA can be a very stressful job. In Canada in 2018, nine officers took their own lives (this was high compared to recent years). We might also add here that there are many more cops in the US than there are in Canada. Statistics tell us there are about 70,000 police officers in Canada and almost tens times that amount in the USA. Other stats tell us the USA has considerably more officers per capita than Canada, but then Canada has a lot less crime. We might also look at websites that list countries for the worst police brutality, and next to less developed countries sometimes stands the USA. We are not going to go into all the reasons why this happens, but we might say that any chance of being part of such brutality might be said to have future negative consequences not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators. Even if they don’t get caught, one day it’s likely their actions will cause them some amount of unhappiness. Just reading various sites, it seems Canadians in general have more trust in their police. This no doubt makes their job easier. Psychology Today says this of US policing, “Recent polls suggest that the majority of Americans do not feel that police are adequately held accountable for their actions, treat racial groups equally or use the right amount of force.” In conclusion, with Canadian police being liked more by those they serve, the fact they have less chance of being killed, the fact they deal with less crime and likely suffer less trauma, and the fact their wages are not too different than their counterparts in the US, we would say being a cop in Canada is better. Did you find this video interesting? Check out our video where we compare American Cops to British Cops! And as usual if you enjoyed this video don’t forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more great content!


Police services

Royal Canadian Mounted Police assigned to a Marine Security Emergency Response Team maneuver their boat after boarding a ship during Frontier Sentinel 2012 in Sydney, Canada, May 8, 2012 120508-N-HN353-287
Royal Canadian Mounted Police assigned to a Marine Security Emergency Response Team maneuver their boat after boarding a ship during Frontier Sentinel 2012 in Sydney, Canada, May 8, 2012 120508-N-HN353-287

The provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador maintain their own provincial police forces—the Ontario Provincial Police, Sûreté du Québec, and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary respectively. Smaller municipalities often contract police service from the provincial policing authority, while larger ones maintain their own forces. Newfoundland's provincial police force is only responsible for the province's larger urban areas (St. John's, Corner Brook and Labrador West); the province has contracted the RCMP/GRC to patrol the rest of the province. The other seven provinces and the three territories contract police services to the RCMP/GRC. It also serves as the local police in all areas outside of Ontario and Quebec that do not have an established local police force, mostly in rural areas. Thus, the RCMP/GRC is the only police force of any sort in some areas of the country.

There are also a few private police forces with some of the powers usually reserved for governmental forces (as it relates to company property). The Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway and Via Rail each have their own police force (CN Police, Canadian Pacific Police Service, and Via Rail Police[1][2] respectively). Any railway in Canada, under Federal jurisdiction, can request that a Superior Court judge appoint police officers under the Railway Safety Act.[3] The duties of private railway police are to prevent crimes against the company and protection of goods, materials, and public rail transit being moved on their rail systems. They work to protect the public, rail personnel, and property owned or administered by the railways. The regular public police maintain authority and jurisdiction for all criminal offences, regardless of whether the offence occurs on public or private property. Some hospitals, universities, transit commissions, power authorities and other agencies employ special constables. The local police chief has statutory and Common Law authority and responsibility for the jurisdiction policed. The duties of private special constables are determined by their employers and have authorities limited by statutes under which they operate. All persons and companies have access to public police.

Canadian Forces Military Police

The Canadian Forces Military Police (CFMP) contribute to the effectiveness and readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence (DND) through the provision of professional police, security and operational support services worldwide.[4]

CFMP are classified as Peace Officers in the Criminal Code,[5] which gives them powers similar to civilian law enforcement personnel to enforce some Acts of Parliament on or in relation to DND property or assets anywhere in the world. The National Defence Act does not bestow the authority to the Minister of Defence to appoint Police Officers. Section 156(1) of the National Defence Act does allow the Minister to confer Peace Officer Status to Specially Appointed Military Police Members. They have the power to arrest anyone who is subject to the Code of Service Discipline (CSD), regardless of position or rank under the National Defence Act (NDA). MP have the power to arrest and charge non-CSD bound civilians only in cases where a crime is committed on or in relation to DND property or assets, or at the request of the Minister of Public Safety, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada or Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Although MP jurisdiction is only on DND property across Canada and throughout the world, any civilian accessing these areas falls under MP jurisdiction and are dealt with in the same manner as any civilian policing agency. If in fact a crime is committed on or in relation to DND property or assets, MP has the power to arrest and charge the offender, military or civilian, under the Criminal Code. It is important to note though that the purpose of the CFMP is not to replace the job of a civilian police officer, but rather to support the Canadian Forces through security and internal policing services.[6][7] MP also have the power to enforce the Provincial Highway Traffic Act on military bases in Canada.


Map of Police per 100,000 population across Canada, 2012.[8]  <176   176–200   201–300   301–400   >400
Map of Police per 100,000 population across Canada, 2012.[8]

In 2011, there were 69,438 active/sworn police officers in Canada. This number was expected to exceed 70,000 by the end of 2012. Canadian police strength reached a peak in 1975, when there were 206 officers per 100,000 people. Although the current number reflects a significant rise in the total police strength in the country (the highest in twelve years after steady declines in the 1980s and 1990s), Canada still utilizes fewer police than Wales (262/ 100,000).

Provincially, Saskatchewan had the highest number at 207 officers per 100,000, and the province has also held the national record for the highest crime rate since 1997. The lowest numbers were in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta.[9] The three territories, while having far fewer police officers in absolute terms, have around twice as many police officers per capita as do the provinces.

Police officers, by province and territory[8][not in citation given]
(Police officers per 100,000 population)
  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Canada 187.6 186.9 188.9 191.5 195.2
Newfoundland and Labrador 148.1 148.1 151 156.8 165.4
Prince Edward Island 158.7 150.1 154.2 158.8 163.5
Nova Scotia 171.7 172.2 173.5 178.4 188.4
New Brunswick 170.4 173.1 172.6 172.3 177.1
Quebec 191.7 191.1 194.2 197.3 198.2
Ontario 189.5 187 186.5 187.3 191.7
Manitoba 196.1 193.6 192.1 196.4 203.6
Saskatchewan 200.8 202 203.1 206 206.6
Alberta 158.1 159.7 162.8 166 165.1
British Columbia 171 168.2 174.9 178.1 185.5
Yukon 405.6 391.6 385.6 371.4 385.3
Northwest Territories 386 399.6 405.8 408.5 418.7
Nunavut 414.9 415.1 402.8 396.3 394

Police service ranks

A helicopter pilot with the RCMP Air Services Branch
A helicopter pilot with the RCMP Air Services Branch

The Chief of Police is the title of the head of most Canadian police forces except for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Commissioner), Ontario Provincial Police (Commissioner), South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service (Chief Officer), Vancouver Police Department (Chief Constable), West Vancouver Police Department (Chief Constable), and the Sûreté du Québec (Director General). Other typical ranks include:

Use of force options

An X26 Taser, a non-lethal alternative to deadly force.
An X26 Taser, a non-lethal alternative to deadly force.

In the 1990s, the majority of law enforcement agencies of Canada began wearing bulletproof vests and municipal police agencies started carrying semi-automatic handguns in the .40 S&W calibre cartridge. In terms of numbers of officers, and due to its use by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the most widely used weapon is the Smith & Wesson Model 5946 with hollow-point 9mm ammunition. A large number of other agencies issue either a Glock or SIG Sauer handgun (most commonly in the law-enforcement popular .40 S&W).

These firearms replaced the aging .38 Special revolver. A police cruiser might carry a carbine rifle; or a shotgun capable of firing a variety of shotgun shells, including the less-lethal flexible baton round and rubber bullets.

Other less-lethal weapons carried include conducted energy weapons, such as tasers, pepper spray, and an expandable baton. In addition, the personal equipment of police officers typically includes: handcuffs, flashlight, portable radio, notebook, pens, a pair of disposable gloves and Kevlar gloves.

See also


  1. ^ "Rail Policing Security". VIA Rail. 8 May 2014.
  2. ^ "VIAP Police Job Description" (PDF).
  3. ^ Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Railway Safety Act".
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2012-04-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Section 2 Criminal Code of Canada
  7. ^ "Military Police Powers - DriveSmartBC".
  8. ^ a b "Police officers by level of policing, by province and territory, 2012" (PDF). Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  9. ^ "Police personnel and expenditures". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
This page was last edited on 1 April 2019, at 12:55
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