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The Living Legend
Book 2 - The Crucible


THE RCMP is often compared with the FBI. It is not a very enlightening comparison. All great police forces resemble one another, but each is also unique. Like nations, each has its individual character arising out of its situation.

The Canadian people are curiously situated. A few big modern cities are strung like beads on the lines of two east-west railroads. Between the cities, the towns and farms are scattered over a very long but narrow fertile belt. A few hours south of this populated strip, across a border so loosely guarded that criminals flit back and forth like ghosts, is the world's greatest industrial civilization. A few hours north lies the frontier, as wide and wild as ever.

It is a situation that calls for four kinds of police: federal, provincial (rural), municipal and frontier. The Mounties are all four. Right across the country they enforce some fifty-five laws that concern chiefly the federal government (narcotics, smuggling, counterfeiting). They have contracts with every province except Ontario and Quebec to act as provincial police. By request, they police one hundred and twenty-five small cities and towns. And across the vast and lonely North they are the only law. No other police force has such scope. Out of it comes their unparalled range of duties.

The Mounties are the Secret Service, the G men, the T men, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas Rangers and Scotland Yard rolled into one. Like the Secret Service, the FBI and the U.S. Treasury agents, they track down counterfeiters, spies and drug peddlers. Like the Coast Guard, their converted minesweepers chase smugglers and aid disabled vessels. On the prairies, where rustling still goes on, they've a role like the Texas Rangers. And like Scotland Yard in London, they walk a city beat.

These far-flung operations have their nerve center in a building designed as a Catholic seminary, a five-story gray stone structure in a quiet suburb of Ottawa. The Mounties bought it in 1954 and, oddly enough, it makes an appropriate headquarters with its clean square lines, its solid austerity.

Within this honeycomb of offices some 380 uniformed bureaucrats try to keep the great machine running smoothly. They are aided by 500-odd civilians mathematicians, doctors, engineers, chemists, handwriting experts, linguists, tailors, telephone operators, dieticians, cooks, stewards, stenographers and clerks.

On the first floor, the Number 1 Mountie, Commissioner Leonard Nicholson, compact, graying, keen, forthright, a man with few affectations, consults with his top brass on policy and strategy. In the basement, the records section patrols long corridors of green filing cabinets. The supply branch sees that the men are fed, clothed, sheltered and mobile (at last count, 29 ships, 11 aircraft, 1185 motor cars, 92 trucks, 76 motorcycles, 6 snowmobiles and 199 horses for basic training only). The fingerprint bureau, the section that registers firearms, the crime-index section (which classifies criminals by traits) and the monthly RCMP Gazette, which publishes pictures of Canada's most-wanted crooks, are quietly busy servicing police forces all across the country.

On the second floor, readers of the Criminal Investigation Branch are studying reports on arson, murder, robbery and fraud. One floor up, Superintendent Henry Larsen of Northwest Passage fame manages affairs in the North. The very hush-hush Special (counterespionage) Branch trades reports of enemy aliens with other intelligence services, translates the published news from behind the Iron Curtain, and relates it to the findings of their undercover men. The atmosphere throughout the building is semi-military. All men stand a little more erect when they speak to superiors, even though they may be arguing the merits of their favorite hockey teams.

Linked to this governing center by teletype lines are the lesser hierarchies: fourteen divisional headquarters, each with its task force of specialists in crime and administration. Then the lines fan out to thirty-two subdivisions, each the hub for a network of detachments combination police stations, jails and barracks. In the cities, a detachment may quarter several dozen field men; at some country crossroads, a solitary Mountie.

It is in these one-man detachments that we most clearly see the fundamental quality of the Mountie. In British Columbia, the Maritimes and the prairie provinces, he's a game warden, fisheries inspector, shipping registrar and census taker. In the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, where public officials are few and far apart, he's a magistrate, postmaster, coroner and sheriff, customs collector, measuring surveyor, immigration inspector and tax collector. He issues licenses for dogs, cars, game, furs, timber and mining claims. He reports on the weather, pays Family Allowance checks and performs marriages.

The small-detachment Mountie stretches the word "police" to its limits. When a farmer committed suicide near Wetaskiwin, Alberta, a Mountie had to inventory the dead man's holdings three sections of wheatland, sixty head of cattle, ninety-two hogs and fourteen horses hire three men to thresh the grain, haul it in to the elevator, fatten the stock, sell it as it became marketable and turn the money over to the public administrator, meanwhile investigating the death and locating a brother in Norway. When a lion escaped from a traveling circus in Rycroft, Alberta, and began to prowl the main street, the Spirit River detachment had to stalk it and shoot it down. When the Mounties evacuated some families during the Red River flood and babies were howling with hunger, a sergeant invaded a cattle car stalled on a nearby track and returned with the wherewithal in hand. And when a Saskatchewan citizen, arrested for carnal knowledge of a girl under fourteen years of age, wanted to make the young mother a bride, his two RCMP custodians arranged for a baby sitter, loaned him a ring, and, while one Mountie stood up as best man, the other acted as bridesmaid.

Obviously, the Mountie is a man of parts and, as such, a slightly old-fashioned figure. For the modern trend, as knowledge advances and work grows more complex, is toward specialization. True, the Mounties have their specialists, good ones and indispensable, but they do not elevate them. They resist the trend; the small-detachment man is their standard model.

It is a standard rooted in necessity. The Mounties have only 5370-odd men far less than some large European and United States cities to police 3,600,000 square miles. They are forced to hold to a precept formed in the infancy of the force: never send ten men when one will do. And this one man must be versatile, for you cannot police a frontier, a land of far horizons, with a group of specialists. Out of this central fact, out of their past, their unique scope, their gamut of duties, an archtype has evolved the all-around man, self-reliant, complete in himself, an individual, in essence an aristocrat, a man who can act on his own authority. Yet, paradoxically, from the moment a man joins the force, he is pressured to conform, to obey, to submit to authority.

2

WHEREVER one sees a Mountie on the street, in his patrol car he seldom stands out as an individual. He resembles the figure in a current advertisement, wherein a great world banking house suggests its reliability by the picture of a uniformed man standing as if rooted to his background of rugged country. The figure, unmistakably a Mountie, is faceless. And it is a curious feature of most RCMP tales that the heroes seem interchangeable, peculiarly alike. They all seem typical.

This is something more than impression. The Mounties do run to type. They're usually trim, seldom huge, never small. Sitting, standing or walking, they hold themselves so erect they appear stiff. Their uniforms are immaculate, their speech is direct. Their features are controlled to the point of immobility. Their personalities seem strangely muted, overlaid at least in public with reserve.

How do they get that way? How does the RCMP take men from farms and cities four thousand miles apart and stamp them with characteristics in common?

The process begins with the kind of men they select. The RCMP is easy to get out of but hard to get into. Before World War II the force wouldn't even advertise for recruits. But the armed services stripped them of men and after the war, reluctantly, they placed with local newspapers these few lines of terse, restrained prose:

WEAR THIS BADGE AND UPHOLD TRADITIONS OF RCMP

If you are 5'8" in height, unmarried, between 18 and 30, and are interested in a career in the RCMP you may apply for engagement immediately.

These ads attracted some 2500 applicants a year, but the force rejected more than 90 per cent. The figures do not include casual inquiries, or such off-beat applications as this:

Dear Sir: I would like a job at detective work. I have plans that are my own in the line of detective plans. ... I couldn't tell you how I will work but ... I have some plans that has never been done before. I can pick out the guilty one every time, no foolin'.

This sort of an applicant, as a rule, hastily screens himself after reading a pamphlet the RCMP sends him. It is called A Career In Scarlet and it informs the would-be Mountie that he must sign on for five years and that during this period he can't marry (to keep part of the force mobile), can't take up a spare-time trade, can't publicly smoke or drink in uniform. It warns him bluntly of hardship, risk and hard work before it mentions starting pay ($203 a month, with free uniforms, medical and dental service), leave (21 days a year if a man can be spared), chances for travel and special training.

The first serious hurdle is a medical examination. If the applicant passes, he's cleared for character. A Mountie visits the applicant's home town or neighborhood, talks to his schoolteachers, former employers, minister or priest, and two references which the applicant must supply. A fingerprint check is made. Sometimes it turns up a criminal record that automatically washes the applicant out.

The next obstacle is an educational test on such subjects as mathematics, history and current affairs. It excludes applicants who answer like this:

Q. What is your reason for joining the Force?

A. I like to travel around the country from place to place.

Q. Who is the Chief Justice of Canada?

A. Don't know him, never had the opportunity of being in court.

Q. What is the difference between prorogation and dissolution of Parliament?

A. It's all the same to me . . .

This is a Grade 10 test but an applicant can get by with a Grade 8 certificate. The reason, explains Superintendent Frank Spalding, who served several years as chief personnel officer, is that "In certain areas there may be good potential policemen who don't have the chance to finish their education for many reasons poverty, sickness in the family, they're needed to help at home or on the farm. We don't want to exclude them, but they have to be exceptional." The educational test is judged together with an intelligence test that weeds out the so-called "educated fools."

Wrong motives for joining eliminate others. The RCMP isn't interested in the glamour-seekers who write in saying: "I saw the movie Saskatchewan last week. I sure go for those red coats and black horses." They don't want the exhibitionist who proclaims: "I would like to devote my life to fighting crime." One man wanted to join "because I look good in uniform." The force does consider how a man would look in uniform, but it's scarcely a main prerequisite.

The motive the Mounties are looking for is the wish to be of service. Says Superintendent Spalding, "You'd be surprised at the number of letters that begin, 'I'd like the chance to serve Canada . . .'The desire for adventure and romance is fine, but it has to be balanced by maturity."

After the written tests comes the crucial trial: a soul-searching interview with the personnel officer at the nearest RCMP divisional headquarters. This man was promoted after years in the field. He's been schooled in the latest personnel techniques. He sets the applicant at his ease and encourages him to talk, noting perhaps, that his shoes have not been polished, that his hands show too much tension, while his manner is too casual.

The applicant states his ambitions. "How about pay?" he asks. "If I went to work in the factory at home I could make sixty a week. How's that stack up with the Mounted Police?"

The officer decides that the applicant thinks too well of himself. The cause might be frustration. "Got any hobbies?" he asks.

The applicant has collected stamps for six months. Then his interest veered to photography. Now he's taking a fling at the trumpet. The officer suspects he may lack persistence.

"Any girl friends?" he asks.

"No."

"But you like to go out with girls?"

"No, not much." Another danger signal. Girls should be a major preoccupation at this man's age. Perhaps he doesn't like to compete.

"Sports?" the officer prods.

The applicant mentions a few sports, none of which involve bodily contact.

"No hockey?" asks the officer. "No football?" He is bearing down now to extract an essential point: the applicant dislikes physical violence. The policeman takes over the conversation. He tells the applicant about men who get roaring drunk on Saturday night and try to beat up the Mountie, about the times policemen have been shot at. The applicant agrees another profession might be more suitable.

"Quite a few back out when they find what police work really is," says Superintendent Spalding. "Some have taken a correspondence course in detection. They thought they'd be natty white-collar detectives. A big bruiser in uniform would handle anything nasty. They'd just work with their brains."

Some of the men the personnel officer turns down seem, on the surface, likely prospects. One applicant, for example, was a highly intelligent youth. He had been a cadet, an outstanding Boy Scout, and captain of his town's baseball team. But when he clashed with the coach over how the team should be run he had quit. "In my opinion, this man is a risk," the personnel officer reported. "He resents discipline."

The personnel officer's conclusions cap a month or more of checking for honesty, knowledge, common sense and intelligence. His recommendation amounts to a seal of approval. He selects a man that he thinks is ambitious, proud and aggressive. But these qualities are balanced by what the officer calls "maturity," a stability vaguely defined in a sense of service.

Now the applicant must pass a final medical inspection that probes for every hidden defect. He is told to pack a suitcase and report to a training center. He has one more gauntlet to run: one of the world's toughest training courses.

3

UPPERMOST in the mind of the man who reports to the training base is the knowledge that he is not yet a Mountie. Every day for the next nine months he will have to prove himself. Serious injury, illness, lack of coordination or nerve can wash him out.

He's called a "recruit" now. He signs on at one of three training centers: Ottawa, Regina or Vancouver. His first days are spent collecting his kit: brown knee-high riding boots, low black boots, duty uniform (slacks and tunic of RCMP brown), a Stetson hat for summer wear, a blue peaked forage cap with a yellow crown band for patrols, a "Klondike pattern" muskrat hat for below-zero temperatures, and two pairs of blue overalls. He picks a bed in the barrack room and prepares to earn the right to wear the famous scarlet and gold, the dress uniform with which he has not yet been issued.

The training routine follows the army pattern with extras. The recruit is assigned to a thirty-man squad. From reveille at 6 a.m. to parade at five in the evening, he's marched in and out of barracks, drill hall, classrooms and gym. He spends many hours on the shooting range, lying on his stomach, squinting along the barrel of a .303 rifle. Standing erect, he raises a .38 service revolver eye level and blazes away at a body target. "Group your shots," the instructor shouts. "Don't stiffen up." The recruit's clumsy draw smooths out, his fire becomes accurate.

In the gym, he practices backflips over the vaulting horse. He punches another recruit in the boxing ring. He learns judo, more commonly called "police holds." "Hit me!" the instructor calls. "Hit me as hard as you can." The big recruit takes a hefty swing, feels a sudden yank on his arm and finds himself lying flat on his back. Slowly, he gets to his feet. His face is pale. It's a tough grind for an older man. A recruit is typically young, eighteen or nineteen.

He is taught how to handle himself in dozens of dangerous situations; he learns how to empty water out of a capsized canoe, how thick ice should be before he can safely drive his car on it (four inches). He learns to swim the odds are good it will save his life and possibly someone else's. He learns to type he'll have to report in quintuplicate on every case he investigates. He learns to use a camera, read a map, survey land and give first aid.

He takes short courses (from one to fifty-five hours) in more than a hundred subjects. He sits with his squad in a classroom for a lecture on observation. The instructor addresses them bluntly: "You think that seeing's believing? I say you don't know what you see! What do you say to that?"

A couple of cocksure recruits give him an argument. As they talk a workman walks in and proceeds to scrub out the classroom.

"You can't clean here now," the instructor protests. "Take your mop and pail and scoot. There's a lecture going on here."

"I got orders to mop here," the man says stubbornly.

Another workman walks in. "Hey, Joe!" he says to the scrubber, "you got the wrong room." He pulls at Joe. Joe resists. The two men fight. The recruits join in. The classroom is a shambles.

The instructor watches, amused, then sharply he shouts, "Break it up! Break it up!" The class sits down again. The two workmen members of the training staff have vanished.

"Now tell me," the instructor asks a recruit, "exactly what happened? How did the fight start? What did the men say?

Describe them." The thirty-man squad gives him thirty different versions of the incident.

"This will teach you two things," the instructor tells the squad. "First you can have six witnesses to a crime and get six different stories. Few people know what they see. They witness an accident and come away with a general impression. When you pin them down, their imagination fills in the blank spots, facts that never existed. Second keep your wits about you. Stay calm. Notice details."

A lecture on questioning witnesses gets decorously underway. Suddenly a man runs in shouting, "Fire in the auditorium!" The recruits half-rise, jabbering excitedly: ". . . Weren't we in there last? . . . Do you think a cigarette could have started it? . . ." Only gradually do they become aware that the instructor is questioning the man. "Who discovered the fire?" he is asking him calmly.

"I did," the man says. The class falls silent.

"Is it still burning?"

"No, I put it out."

"Where was it?"

"In the wastepaper basket."

The recruits emit an embarrassed laugh.

"I hope this will teach you not to go off half cocked," the instructor tells them. "Get the facts. And remember how confused you felt just now. A lot of the people you question are going to feel just that way."

The entire squad takes part in realistic games of cops and robbers. An outbuilding that simulates a general store is robbed. A recruit playing a Mountie collars another recruit whom he suspects of being the thief. He takes the thiefs fingerprints. He compares them with the prints found on a car the thief has escaped in (a bit of improvisation not in the script) and then abandoned. The fingerprints match.

The thief is taken before the magistrate, played by the training officer. A recruit is detailed to be the prosecutor, another to handle the defense. The fingerprints are the main evidence.

"When did you take these fingerprints?" the defense lawyer asks the Mountie.

The Mountie tells him.

"Was there any charge against the accused at the time? Was he under arrest?"

"No, sir. I couldn't be sure he was guilty until I compared the fingerprints."

The defense lawyer turns to the magistrate. "Your Honor, I submit that these prints are not admissible evidence. According to the Identification of Criminals Act, fingerprints may not be taken unless a suspect is under arrest."

The magistrate upholds the "defense lawyer." He explains the circumstances under which fingerprints may be taken. The "thief' goes free though the "mountie" is morally certain he had the right man. "Everyone makes mistakes when they start," the instructor explains. "This is the proper place to make them." He turns to the "thief." "That car you swiped belongs to the sergeant major and if I were you I'd get it back before he misses it."

The recruit is drilled in the Criminal Code, customs and excise laws, banking procedures and Indians' rights. He's harangued on the causes of juvenile delinquency. He's taught to classify different types of grain, wood and cattle brands.

He's instructed in the intricacies of counterfeiting and handwriting. His tutors enlighten him in the science of cultivating informers, shadowing suspects, organizing a search party, throwing a gas bomb and using a mine detector (for finding such things as hidden weapons). He comes fresh from a lecture on public relations and is detailed off to scrub out the barrack block on his hands and knees.

Every week, the officer commanding the spick-and-span training school inspects the quarters of his trainees. Once, in Regina, a recruit finished scrubbing out for inspection and decided he had time to take a shower. He was in the middle of it when the OC stalked in. A thorough man, he pulled back the shower curtains. The naked recruit snapped to attention and presented the startled OC with the smartest, wettest, soapiest salute in RCMP memory.

If the OC spots one bed unmade he may confine the entire squad to barracks for a month. "Right from the start," says Leonard Nicholson, the one-time farm hand who made the climb from constable to commissioner, "the young man learns it's a disciplined force he's in."

This lesson is driven home over and over in the drill hall. The drill sergeant soon becomes an ogre with supernatural powers. He brings his squad to rigid attention, then turns his back upon them, apparently to dash tears of disgust from his eyes. Moments pass a recruit decides to ease his aching back. With infallible timing the drill sergeant wheels and withers the lad with a blast from his highly colored vocabulary.

In between learning the lore of bloodstains, poisons and burglary techniques, it's drill, drill, drill. The recruit is shouted at until he's dazed. He's told to stand up straight, to say "Sir," to salute. His first plunge into RCMP life is so confusing that a new recruit once summed it up in a now classic remark: "Everything that moves is saluted. Everything that stands still is painted white." *

In addition to six months of this the recruit gets three months of equitation. Horses are part of the RCMP tradition. A placard at Regina barracks quotes Winston Churchill:

Don't give your son money. Give him horses. No man ever came to grief except honorable grief through riding.

If the recruit graduates, the odds are against his riding anything more lively than a motorcycle. The Mounties now keep only as many horses as they need for basic training (about 200). If the recruit lacks fortitude, the horse will bring it out. "They're good hardening," says Commissioner Nicholson. "They knock a man about in a way that's hard to duplicate unless we go to an assault course."

The recruits ride about four hours a day. The rest of the time, from dawn to dusk, they're cleaning the stables, polishing their saddles, feeding and watering the horses. There's a saying that a man who grooms his horse properly needs no other exercise. Three times a day the recruits groom their mounts. "Lean on that currycomb," the sergeant shouts. "You won't push him over." A recruit rakes the tin comb too harshly across his horse's tender belly. The animal's long neck swivels and its yellow teeth raise an ugly welt on his * Abo claimed by Army and Navy arm. The irate sergeant's reaction (according to recruits): "Get that clumsy clown out of here and check that poor horse for injuries."

On Monday morning, after a week-end's rest, the horses are at their best, or from a recruit's view their worst. A mare kicks the boards of the riding hall and the others follow suit till the hall reverberates like a giant drum. The recruits' nerves tighten. The instructor, a hard-bitten sergeant, walks them around the hall in single file. A horse clamps the bit in his teeth and bolts. "Hold him!" shouts the instructor. It is useless. Rising in his stirrups, the instructor calls, "Send me a postcard when you get there."

Sometimes the willful mood of one horse sweeps contagiously over the others. They sunfish and they crowhop; trainees fly in all directions. Around the hall in a pall of dust the riderless horses gallop while the frightened bruised recruits scramble for safety. Following one such melee in Regina the riding instructor lined up his squad and found that he had one empty saddle. After a prolonged search the missing recruit was found perched on a stanchion high overhead, most reluctant to come down. A sorely tried instructor once came back to his office, laid down his riding crop, took off his cap and sank to his knees. "O Lord," he cried, "how long? How long?"

The order "Cross stirrups" will bring the most recalcitrant class to heel. The stirrups are folded over the horse's withers; the recruit can no longer "post" lift in his stirrups with the movement of his mount. Half an hour of trotting without stirrups and his leg muscles are screaming. It's especially rough on the stocky, bulky, round-legged man.

One trainee, after two and a half hours, toppled off his horse in a dead faint. "It's like having a bad case of arthritis in both legs," says one recruit. "As far as I'm concerned it's the toughest training you can get." Few recruits disagree.

When the budding Mounties have got the feel of their horses, the instructor takes them outside to a worn path called "Suicide Lane." Here, five or six poles have been set up on trestles some thirty feet apart. "Put a knot in your reins," the instructor orders. "Cross stirrups, fold your arms, and line up to jump."

Single file, holding on only with knees and thighs, the recruits go thundering down the lane. A horse balks. The unlucky recruit goes on over his head. In a recent class there were two broken collarbones, a broken arm, two ruptured appendixes and numerous sprains. No one was washed out. "They have to learn to forget about being hurt," an instructor explains. "A good man enjoys the rough-and-tumble."

All this time the recruit is watched for flaws. His alertness, temper, tact, patience and perseverance is noted. Later, he may be tapped for the crime lab or the Special (counterespionage) Branch. He may be marked as a likely type for the CIB, the Criminal Investigation Branch. He may make a seaman-Mountie on a Marine Division coastal craft, or his temperament may seem suited to a lonely arctic post. He may display the patience of a dogmaster. He may even be sent to a university, for the force has usually four or five men working for degrees in chemistry, physics, commerce and law. By the time sixteen instructors have appraised a recruit, the RCMP has a fairly shrewd opinion as to what kind of policeman he will make.

And all the while he is toughening up. His intellect is sharpening. He's absorbing the history of the force. Above all, he is learning obedience.

Three out of the thirty-man squad, on an average, will flunk the course, and for them there'll be no second chance. The others will don, for the first time, the famous red serge tunic and "pass out" on parade before the Officer Commanding, while the RCMP band plays and the flag snaps in the breeze, and parents try to pick out their sons from a row of facsimiles.

4

THE young Mountie begins his career "on detachment." It may be a big city detachment. It may, more typically, be some rural center. Now that he has been hammered into a cog in a great machine, an obedient automaton, the recruit, now a "rookie," will be posted to an area that demands of its policemen the utmost flexibility.

Rural detachment work is tough and exacting. The telephone jangles incessantly with minor complaints: thefts, assaults, accidents, drunkenness, juvenile delinquency. The rookie is broken in gradually. For a few weeks he is coupled with an experienced corporal or sergeant. The rookie watches him issue gun permits, check on amusement taxes, interview people who want to adopt a child, prosecute a case in court, hand out relief, and inoculate dogs for rabies. He learns to handle a drunk, a mental patient, a traffic offender, even, perhaps, a safe blower carrying a package of nitroglycerine. If the rookie is impressed by the older policeman he may copy not only his methods but his manner.

The rookie's first job alone will be routine: desk clerk or telephone orderly. Or he may start out on night highway patrol, by escorting prisoners, or by accompanying a social service worker. Nevertheless, from the moment he walks alone in uniform, this very young man assumes responsibility.

One Saturday night in Lloydminster, Alberta, young Constable Joseph McCarthy had just completed one of the dullest of RCMP chores "polishing doorknobs" on a town beat and was having a bedtime snack in the National Cafe when a man hurried in to tell him there was trouble up at the pool hall.

The pool hall was locked but some men were clustered outside.

"What's the trouble?" McCarthy asked.

No one answered. He did not learn until afterward that the pool hall had been robbed, but he could sense that the men were frightened. They would not meet his gaze. Looking them over sharply he recognized an ex-convict, a man called Donald Graves.

Graves evaded his questions, grew belligerent. The Mountie started to search him. Graves suddenly whipped out a knife with an open blade. McCarthy managed to knock it out of his hand. Graves jumped back, reached under his coat, pulled out a stockless rifle, leveled it at the constable's belt and swore he'd "fill him full of lead."

The men looking on were too frightened to come to the young Mountie's aid. McCarthy, talking calmly, placat-ingly, edged closer to Graves. But the ex-convict, backing away, went on mouthing threats, nerving himself to shoot. Suddenly the Mountie lunged, knocking the gun barrel upward.

Then the ex-con reached in his pocket, snarling, "A thirty-eight will do as well." McCarthy spun him around, twisting his left arm behind him. The walking arsenal pulled another open-bladed knife and began to slash at McCarthy over his shoulder. By the time the other detachment men had been summoned by a spectator Graves's knife was cutting vicious but impotent arcs in the air as the Mountie dragged him slowly off to cells.

In all communities men such as Graves are a threat to every citizen to his property, his rights and his safety. These are the policeman's responsibilities. To fulfill them he may be called on to risk his life.

The call came one week before Christmas to Constables Bill Pooler and Douglas Winn at Quesnel, British Columbia. At twenty minutes past midnight the detachment telephone rang. Pooler's sleepiness vanished as he listened. The Bank of Commerce at Williams Lake had been robbed. The robber, a big, heavy-set, scarfaced man in a gray suit, had shot the manager and escaped.

Pooler phoned ahead for a roadblock, roused Constables Winn and George Mohr. They piled in a deputy sheriff's car and sped down the Cariboo Trail, stopping every car they met to check it. It was 4 a.m. by the time they reached Williams Lake, and they had been joined by Constable Jack Groves.

A search party was waiting. Snow had begun to fall, obscuring the robber's tracks. They led east, on and off the highway as the night traffic forced him to hide. He was trying to lose his pursuers; they could see where he had backtracked, and in places he had walked along fence rails. The Mounties had no way of knowing that this was Ziggy Seguin, a murderer wanted in Ontario, an ex-soldier who boasted that he never missed with a gun. But they knew he was an outdoorsman, experienced and armed.

Working together, the four Mounties trailed the robber into timbered uplands. Mohr went back to inform the main search party. Pooler, Winn and Groves tracked for another five miles. At 9:40 a.m. the trail led them out on the rim of a creekbed. Scrambling down the gravel bank, Pooler, in the lead, glimpsed clothing below in the bush.

"This is it!" he tossed back to Winn. And even as he said it his angle of vision shifted; out of the creek bottom's tangle brush there emerged a man's face and hand. Pooler, no more than twenty feet away, could see that hand with a startling, yet detached, clarity. It was holding an automatic, the pistol was cocked, and the hand was absolutely steady.

"Drop them!" the man commanded.

Pooler leaped to the right, throwing his rifle forward, and heard the click of his trigger as it fell on the empty breach. Behind him, as the gunman fired, Winn had fallen flat and was sliding headfirst down the bank, firing as he slid.

The robber dropped back into the brush. There was silence.

"Drop your gun!" Pooler called.

"I'm hit," the robber said.

"Drop your gun!"

"Cover me," Pooler said to Winn. He skidded the rest of the way down the bank and picked up the robber's gun. The man had been shot in the breast. He was bleeding badly. While Groves went for a doctor, Winn and Pooler built a fire, bandaged the wound and covered the man with their pea jackets. Fifty minutes later Groves returned with a doctor. The robber, murderer Ziggy Seguin, survived, only to poison himself one hour before he was to hang.

A heavy responsibility rests with police in a manhunt. The lives of the men in the posse, the civilian volunteers, are more important than capturing the criminal, and these lives will often depend on the Mountie's quickness of thought. But a manhunt, though not uncommon, is scarcely routine. The hunter is supported by a sense of urgency. He is buoyed up by the spine-tingling suspense, the exhilaration of pitting his wits against another human. He acts in concert with others, seldom alone. And though the crisis brings risk of death, he has time to prepare himself for it.

It is not so much death as fear of failure that haunts the young policeman as he strolls down his placid beat. And perhaps less fear of failure than of the unknown, within and without. He is dealing in human emotion elemental, unpredictable. It may erupt without warning as he turns a familiar corner. And the rookie wonders how he'll react, how he will measure up.

He may be walking home for lunch like Constable Alex Gamman one fine May day in Montreal. As he walked by a branch of the Bank of Toronto the door burst open. A man with a gun in his hand came rushing out. Gamman seized him, they grappled, the robber fired three shots and left Gamman dying on the pavement. The killer, Thomas Ross-ler, was captured months later in Montana. He hadn't meant to kill the Mountie, he said before he was hanged. He had been emotionally upset, he said. "I was drinking too much. Whiskey and guns don't mix."

The Mountie never knows when some bit of ordinary life, some petty task that he has performed a hundred times, will twist suddenly from his grasp, charged with emotion, magnified in an instant into a nightmare and only his instincts will stand between him and ridicule, failure, or death.

It was, for example, a strictly routine call that came into the Eskasoni detachment in Nova Scotia one chilly March day. Two Indian brothers, John and Stephen Marshall, were drunkenly abusing some of the local citizenry. Constable Arthur Walsh sighed and drove out to the Indian reserve. As he pulled up at Stephen's house, the Indian came reeling down the road. The Mountie waited, opened the car door and told Stephen to get in.

The Indian said he wanted to get his hat and coat first. His mood seemed reasonable. The Mountie agreed. He followed Stephen into the house. John Marshall was slumped on a couch, drunk, a jug of home brew beside him.

Together, the brothers turned quarrelsome. Stephen seized Constable Walsh by the tunic. "No goddammed Mountie," he said, "is taking me off the reserve."

The constable talked him out of it.

"To hell with this," John said, "I'm going home." He put on his coat and went outside. The Mountie took his arm and led him toward the police car.

A stunning blow suddenly knocked him down. Stephen had crept up behind him. Now the brothers began to kick him into unconsciousness. Through a red fog the constable heard Stephen tell his brother to get an ax and finish him off. Dimly he saw John Marshall hand Stephen a double-bladed ax. He felt its cold steel on his Adam's apple as Stephen, straddling him, prepared to cut his throat. With a desperate effort he knocked the ax away, struggled upright, and staggered toward the police car. John Marshall grabbed him. The Mountie fought him off and managed to get inside the car. With Stephen battering the car door, Walsh got the engine started and zigzagged away. Reinforced by some local residents, he came back and subdued the Indians.

A Mountie's life has many emergencies. He seldom has opportunity or time to ask for instructions. Every day his responsibilities force him to act on his own. Before long he is confident of his ability to meet most situations.

There's a danger, of course, that he may have too much luck. If he never comes up against anything too big for him to handle he may begin to think himself superior. Pride may delude him. Confidence may become cockiness. His aggressiveness, unchecked, may lead him into arrogance and finally into brutality. But a small-detachment Mountie has three chastening influences: the law, the public and his force.

5

THE LAW gives a Mounted Policeman almost unlimited responsibility, but it places some sharp restraints on his authority. A Mountie sees a man running down the street. The man may be a thief escaping. He may be running to keep a date with his wife. If the Mountie, by passing him up, lets a thief escape, he'll be reprimanded. But if he arrests him wrongly, he not the force, not the Crown is liable. Any damages for false arrest will come out of the Mountie's pocket.

The rookie must learn to add facts fast. Impressions are meaningless. He cannot bring a man before a magistrate and say, "I arrested this man because he was drunk." The magistrate will rebuke him for presenting opinion, not fact. The facts might be that the man had been uttering loud indecent language while walking unsteadily. The policeman has a duty to observe and present these facts, clearly, concisely, accurately and impartially. The man may be drunk or he may have been hit by a car; the policeman has no right to judge.

In truth, the policeman has little more power than any other citizen. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, "Any person may arrest without warrant any one who is found committing any of the offences mentioned . . ." And the list of offenses that follows is not a great deal shorter than those for which a policeman may make an arrest.

The Mountie, then, has authority as an ordinary citizen to perform most of the duties for which he is paid as a policeman. He is, in fact, as Commissioner Leonard Nicholson points out, "a citizen acting on behalf of fellow citizens."

It is not an easy role. He has little more right than anyone else to use force. Specifically, the code states: "Everyone authorized by law to use force is criminally responsible for any excess . . ." The Mountie, as a policeman, is impeded by the same law that safeguards his privileges as a citizen: that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

A noted Mountie, Assistant Commissioner Melville F. E. Anthony, who upon retirement became chief of police in Edmonton, illustrates the policeman's dilemma and his need to make quick decisions with an episode that happened in Winnipeg. A bank messenger was waylaid and robbed of several thousand dollars. The only lead was his statement that the robbers escaped in "a large black car." All border detachments were alerted. Shortly afterward, two policemen, cruising the southbound highway some four miles from the border, saw a large black car bearing down upon them at ninety miles an hour. They flagged it but it didn't slacken speed. They had a second or so to decide what to do. Should they use their submachine gun? Suppose it wasn't the robbers. How much force were they justified in using to halt the car? They decided not to open fire, gave chase instead, and were stopped a mile from the border by a handful of roofing nails flung from the car ahead.

In less than a minute the U.S. police were faced with the same decision. They, too, decided to follow the speeding car. Their gas tank was full and they figured the other car, sooner or later, would have to stop for gas. One hour later the fleeing car did stop. It braked abruptly to a halt, two men with machine guns jumped out, centered the U.S. police car in a crossfire, smashed the windshield, ripped open the radiator, and drilled holes in the clothing of the policemen, though miraculously no one was killed. Then the bank robbers forced the police to lie face down in the ditch while they drove off and they were never caught.

"The policeman," Anthony says, "must mentally weigh the facts and act instantly. If it comes to court and he has used too much force or made a mistake and we all do the defense counsel will have had three months to prepare his case and it's easy to blast the policeman. The judge, if he was uncertain, has looked up the point in his law books. The policeman himself, on reflection, can often think of a better way that the situation could have been handled. But he can't walk away and consider what he should do."

The policeman cannot put off his decisions as most people can. He cannot dodge a situation too big for him to handle. The gall of frequent failure leads him to self-examination; he discovers his limitations. Success restores his confidence, frees him from self-concern. Between success and failure, like a guncrew straddling a target, he defines his abilities. He begins to know and accept himself, to know and accept the law. Its restraints become his principles. It serves him as a guide. It protects him from his best instincts as well as his worst.

In a typical case, an RCMP sergeant, patrolling the bush, came across a deerskin, still green. The sergeant traced the out-of-season slaying to an unemployed logger with a sick wife and four small children. He was sympathetic; nevertheless he brought in the logger and arraigned him before the justice of the peace, a local farmer. He presented the facts, then concluded, "Your Honor, this man can't afford a fine."

"I'll have to fine him," the j.p. said, "but I'll give him six weeks to pay. In the meantime, I'll ask the attorney general to let him off."

"The other way," this Mountie says, "is to close your eyes. But that's not right. Where do you stop? The first thing you know a drunk drives by and instead of recognizing that the man is a bloody menace to the community, you say, That's only old Joe, he's just had one drink too many.'"

6

THE PUBLIC has subtle curbs to a Mountie's conduct. People are quick to take a new man's measure. If he thinks himself superior he finds them indifferent to his problems. If he struts down the streets as though he were on parade, a few bars of Rose-Marie whistled behind his back will take the edge off his pride. If they think he exceeds his authority they complain to his superior.

In a backwoods detachment a storekeeper called up the Mountie, a zealous, hard-working young constable, Lloyd Bingham, and charged that a farmer had stolen his car. Bingham investigated. The storekeeper, he found, had traded his car to the farmer for some potatoes. The farmer had picked up the car right away but the merchant had let a month pass before he asked the farmer to make delivery. The farmer, busy then, had asked him to wait another week. But during that week, potato prices had tumbled and the storekeeper felt that he had been cheated.

The Mountie told the storekeeper that he couldn't lay a charge. "There must be intent to steal," he said. "This is a civil matter."

The storekeeper drove eighty miles to town, saw a magistrate, and came back with a summons for Bingham to serve on the farmer. Bingham served it, studied the facts, and in court presented the case as well as he could for the prosecution. But when he had finished he said, "Your Worship, I don't think we have a case. It's really too bad to waste your time like this." And the charge was dismissed.

Three weeks later, while escorting a prisoner to jail, the Mountie stopped off at a neighboring detachment. "Ive something to show you," the sergeant in charge said. An elderly friend of the storekeeper, a chronic trouble-maker with a Harvard education, had written a three-page complaint studded with long legal terms, accusing the farmer of making home brew and claiming that Constable Bingham, "a disgrace to the uniform," had refused to prosecute.

The sergeant knew the writer's reputation. Nevertheless, he investigated thoroughly. The charge, he reported, was groundless. Again the man wrote to the RCMP divisional headquarters, insisting that the sergeant had "whitewashed" Bingham. An officer from the subdivision investigated. A third complaint brought a third investigation by a disciplinarian patrol sergeant from headquarters. Each time Bing-ham was cleared. But each time-wasting investigation added fuel to his burning indignation.

On his next trip to headquarters, Bingham requested to see the OC, the top-ranking Mountie in the province. The veteran listened benevolently to his story. "Well, my boy," he said, "always remember this. If there's one reason this force has a reputation, it's because we take action on complaints. Go back and forget it. There's never been a good Mounted Policeman that hasn't been investigated three or four times. Incidentally, we've found out you're doing a lot of work." The constable went on working, became Superintendent Bingham, adjutant of the force.

The public will bully the Mountie. In a characteristic case, a sergeant stopped a prominent businessman who was driving his car in a manner that left no doubt he had been drinking.

"Do you know who I am?" the man demanded.

"Yes, sir," the sergeant said. "Will you come with me, please?"

The man broke into a tirade of abuse. He had influential friends. He would speak to his M.P. He'd break the blank-blank Mountie.

The sergeant listened patiently until he was through. "If you've nothing more to say," he asked, "would you mind coming with me?"

"This is a common occurrence," says an RCMP officer. "You catch a man breaking the law. He's embarrassed, humiliated. He fights against it, and you're the person he takes his resentment out on. A policeman must understand this and not take it personally. You can't look the other way when you see this man again and think, 'This man doesn't like me.' You have to take the objective view of everything."

The public will let the Mountie down. On an isolated lake north of the railroad in Saskatchewan, a fisheries officer caught a fisherman using nets so fine that the fish in the lake would soon have been depleted. The fisherman chased the officer off with a murderous-looking ice chisel and threatened a violent end to anyone else who tried to stop him. The officer told the nearest Mountie, who set out by dog team intending to pick up a posse enroute. The Mountie describes the experience in his report:

At each stop sincere sympathy was extended and many citizens regretted that urgent business prevented their rendering personal physical aid. The reputation of the accused for violence also grew by leaps and bounds as the patrol neared the objective.

When the writer actually set out on foot to cover the last few miles and effect the arrest, he was accompanied by some five "volunteers." However, as the accused was sighted across a bay carrying on his fishing operations, it turned out that all but one of them had actually volunteered to be near enough to see the arrest made. The remaining member of the "support" party stayed with me until we were within rifle range. He then felt that it was important to cover what he thought would be the most likely escape route, although it seemed to me that there were quite a few escape routes on a lake covered with three feet or more of ice.

The actual arrest was a great anticlimax. The accused willingly surrendered himself and showed a great desire to prove himself a most co-operative member of society.

Often the Mountie will put in many miles and long hours only to have the complainant refuse to go through with the process of law. One householder, for example, complained that his garden hose had been stolen. But when a Mountie discovered that a neighbor was the thief, the owner backed out of laying a charge. In another instance, a gypsy girl from a traveling fair led a farmer on, then picked his pockets of five hundred dollars. A Mountie located the girl and asked the farmer to lay a charge.

"No, I just want my money back," said the farmer.

"The only way you can get your money back is to lay a charge."

"No, no," the farmer said, "I couldn't do that. How do I know what that girl might say about me?"

The public will pass the young policeman through a cynical stage. It will try to bulldoze him, badger him. It will try to seduce him with popularity, gifts, friendship, flattery. The public is a woman with a persecution complex, a reformer who wants a movie banned, a farmer who asks for advice in a problem of civil law that would tax a Supreme Court judge, a lady out on the fourth concession who isn't feeling well and would like the Mountie to drop in a packet of pink pills on his way past.

But the Mountie cannot wash his hands of the public. He cannot solve the most trivial case unless people answer his questions. "That's common sense," says a sergeant who topped his class at police college, an advanced RCMP training course for experienced men. " 'Well, George,' you say, 'what do you know about this case?' But if George doesn't like your looks you don't get anywhere. You've got to learn to size up people. You've got to get to know them. Once you know them you start to appreciate them and that's one of the things that makes the job worthwhile."

The young Mountie looking for information learns that a farmer in the slack season will not respond to a brisk hurry-up approach, but at harvest time will resent wasting time on chitchat. Writes Corporal John Mitchell in the RCMP Quarterly, "Every policeman has something to sell himself. Never let a shadow of irritation show in your face or speech because your lunch has been interrupted for the third time even though it was just to sell another muskrat permit." Once an unwanted caller dropped a casual remark to Mitchell that led to a thousand-dollar seizure of illegal furs and cleared up a long-standing thorn in the side of the game warden.

7

THE PUBLIC and the law, though salutary disciplines, are far from infallible. A policeman can shirk his duty and the public will think he's a "good guy." He can get around the law suppress facts, fake evidence, ignore a suspect's rights. But he can seldom fool the men he works with for long. The attitude of the force is the first and foremost influence in almost every Mounted Policeman's career.

In a year or so most Mounties think they're as hot as Perry Mason, a conceit which a veteran NCO knows how to deflate before it leads the young man into arrogance. A murder occurs which the young constable thinks only he can solve. "Here, my lad," says the NCO, "you can handle this common assault. Constable Brown here will take charge of the murder."

The rules and attitudes of the force, based on law and tradition, act as a brake on a Mountie's aggressiveness. He knows that he cannot bring in a suspect wounded or beaten up and blandly explain that the man resisted arrest. The force would sooner see a minor criminal get away than run the risk of killing him with a shot. The Mountie is taught that his gun is a dangerous weapon, not a convenient tool for subduing or capturing criminals. The RCMP brass believe that any police policy of "playing it safe" by firing first when the criminal is armed leads only to a similar policy among criminals. "I really believe," Commissioner Nicholson says, "that we'd have lost far more men in our history if we'd shot it out at any provocation. And we might be in trouble now if we had." The figures seem to bear him out. Of an average one hundred and seventy thousand investigations a year from killing a deer out of season to breaking a counterfeit ring gunfire is exchanged in two or three.

This attitude has given birth to the flattering but foolish fiction that a Mountie must let the criminal fire first. Standing orders state that a gun may be used against an armed man, to defend a building, or when in grave danger. But, as Assistant Commissioner C. W. "Slim" Harvison, a distinguished policeman, points out, "You just can't pinpoint when you should use a gun. We usually say, 'When you're in fear for your life.' But you can't say you mustn't shoot a man if he's getting away. What if he's a convicted murderer?

And it's even more wrong to say you must shoot. Most offenses don't warrant risking a man's life. You have to judge each case separately."

The use of the third degree torture or threats to extract a confession is still in clandestine favor with many police forces and is harder to curb because it takes place in secret. The RCMP, for this reason, is uncompromisingly strict. A Mountie, only a couple of years out of training, caught a man with a cache of liquor. He took the man, an ex-convict, to his office for questioning. The man opposed every question with insolence. The constable lost his temper, slapped him twice on the face with his glove. The ex-convict filed a complaint and the constable was dismissed. He had an excellent record, an aptitude for police work, every prospect of making a fine career in the force. Quite possibly, some brutality slips by undetected. But such consequences do not encourage it.

The force lays down a clear-cut procedure for questioning. "You don't bluster," Assistant Commissioner Harvison says. "You don't raise your voice. You don't raise the prisoner's hopes. You don't say, 'You'll feel better if you tell,' or 'It'll be smart to tell what you know.' You give the prisoner this warning: 'You need not say anything. You have nothing to hope from any promise or favor and nothing to fear from any threat, whether or not you say anything. Anything you do say may be used as evidence at your trial.' You say, 'Do you understand this?' If not, you explain it. If English isn't the prisoner's language you get an interpreter. You lean over backward to be impartial. And after all this you still have a tough job to get the statement into court."

Canadian courts refuse consistently to admit evidence suspected of having been obtained by third-degree methods. And defense lawyers try to rouse sympathy for their clients and doubt of their guilt by seizing any pretext to accuse the police of brutality. Indeed, it is often the only defense. This is one practical reason why Commissioner Nicholson says, "A forced confession is no more than a confession of poor police work. We're more anxious to avoid brutality than the people watching us to see we don't do it [i.e., the press]."

The most insidious police oppressions are, of course, mental. In Vancouver, a youthful Mountie arrested a citizen for drunken driving, a charge that carries a mandatory jail sentence. Since the man was a first offender, a respectable citizen, the attorney general's office suggested the charge be changed to "driving while faculties are impaired." The young Mountie would not agree to the change. His inspector argued with him. The constable stubbornly stood fast. The inspector, though embarrassed, admired this young man, who he thought was standing firm and alone on a matter of principle. In a further conversation, however, the constable revealed a deep-rooted aversion to alcohol. What the inspector took for principle had been prejudice. The constable was transferred and warned that another such incident would result in his being discharged.

Even the appearance of oppression is avoided. The commissioner prior to Nicholson was Stuart Taylor Wood, son of an RCMP assistant commissioner and great-grandson of U.S. President Zachary Taylor. When a U.S. correspondent asked him why he didn't use bloodhounds instead of German shepherds for tracking, Wood admitted that bloodhounds might be more efficient, "but in the eyes of the world they are symbols of oppression. They conjure up visions of masters tracking down slaves. We have no masters or slaves in Canada, and I want no symbols of oppression in Canada's Mounted Police."

The Mountie must come to terms with the rules. He learns to bend his will to the will of his officers, not in blind agreement but in acceptance of authority. In return he gains the knowledge that he does not stand alone and this knowledge is a main source of strength. If a constable is right he knows the force will back him up.

A classic case occurred a few years ago. A Mountie patrolling the wooded outskirts of a small town heard a shot from the direction of the river. He hurried down and saw a man in a motorboat holding a rifle, about to retrieve the wild duck he had killed. The constable knew at once that his own position was delicate. The hunter was one of the district's leading citizens.

"You know you're not supposed to shoot ducks out of season, don't you, sir?" he asked.

The hunter said he hadn't known of any closed season on this kind of duck. He apologized at some length.

The constable hesitated. He didn't want to offend such a prominent man but his duty was clear cut. "I'm sorry, sir," he said, "I'll have to prefer charges against you."

"I'll tell you what I'll do," the hunter suggested. "I'll drop a line to the chief game warden and explain what I've done. How's that?"

The Mountie was glad to agree. Back in his office he typed out a full report. His commanding officer notified the chief game warden that he could expect a letter from the hunter. Weeks went by. The letter did not arrive.

The constable and the hunter had made a gentleman's agreement. The hunter had broken it. The subdivision OC had a summons issued. The hunter was charged with shooting a duck out of season.

The prominent citizen was outraged. "Intolerable and preposterous!" he stormed. The RCMP had no evidence, only a constable's word against his. His attorney fought the case and won an acquittal.

Now the Mounties were outraged. They appealed the case and won. The hunter was ordered to pay a $10 fine. With righteous indignation he refused. He would carry the case right through to the Supreme Court, he declared.

The RCMP now began to investigate the man to find out what sort of hunter he was. Unexpectedly, the hunter decided not to appeal. The RCMP immediately sent a Mountie to his home to collect the $10 fine. The big house was dark. The Mountie peered in a window. The furniture was gone. The hunter and his family, the Mountie learned, had left town the night before.

Now the Mounties began a thorough investigation. They found that the hunter's house was heavily mortgaged; payments were overdue. He had lost a great deal of money in a factory that went bankrupt. They located a widow who told of having given this man $30,000 to invest for her. She had written him about it, she said, but had not received an answer.

The RCMP tried to trace the hunter but he had left the country. It was not until many months later in a distant province that they picked him up and brought him back for trial on a charge of fraud. Once again he was acquitted. But, at the end of the trial, a Mountie served him a court order. It stated that he owed the government $10. This time, the prominent citizen paid.

He paid too late. The Mounties had found fresh evidence: another woman who claimed that she had been swindled by this man. She said she had given him $80,000. Again he was arrested, and now the case was airtight. The man who had thought himself too big to be fined for shooting a duck was sentenced to five years for fraud.

No wise man pulls weight on a Mountie. Every constable is conscious of the tradition he upholds. He may gripe about the pay, the work, the promotion he didn't get, but he seldom lets an outsider hear him. The unwritten law for all ranks is "Don't let the force down."

At the ceremonial opening of the Alaska Highway, a column of Mounties stood on parade. It was twenty degrees below zero and General O'Connor, head of the U.S. Army engineers, told the column they could leave their parkas on. "Wouldn't think of it, sir," the RCMP officer in charge said, and the Mounties stood unflinchingly at attention throughout the ceremony, clad only in scarlet serge. A U.S. politician who had noticed the byplay remarked: "I thought only the U.S. Marines felt that way about their uniform."

8

A STENOGRAPHER at RCMP headquarters once com. pared her employers to nuns. The simile is rather surprising but apt. The Mountie has the nun's air of detachment, a somewhat austere impersonal anonymity.

The RCMP, like the Catholic Church, has reconciled two apparent contradictions: a hierarchy and individuality, a rigid discipline and personal initiative. The emphasis on discipline is a military heritage. The encouragement of initiative stems from the need for flexibility, from the scope of their work, from the range of their duties, from all the responsibilities of a small-detachment Mountie in a land not far removed in time and space from the frontier.

Responsibility draws forth his strength and weakness, draws him onward into maturity. If he has what it takes he moves upward through the hierarchy to corporal, sergeant, staff sergeant; then, if he is lucky, the big jump to commissioned rank, to the top three per cent subinspec-tor, inspector, superintendent, assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner, commissioner. And, with each step, as responsibilities mount, discipline tightens.

The Mountie must continually yield to discipline, to the rules and authority of his force, to the public, and to law, the abstract reason that governs free men. There is no end to discipline, for discipline is reality and no man can resist the nature of things. He can only resent or accept.

In the act of acceptance, as in the act of faith, the Mountie becomes part of that which he accepts. He grows a little impersonal, a little detached, for his pride and his loyalty are in part given outside himself. Through service he strengthens the feeling that he has found his place. His consciousness enlarges. His sense of duty deepens. He sees what should be done and does it; he does not need to be told. The obedient cog in the big machine has become a thinking man, an individual. Compulsion is dissolved in self-control.

And this is the aim of RCMP discipline to give a man the stability he needs to act on his own, to free him from the illusions, the anxieties, the aggressions, all the lonely tensions of pride; to build character on the bedrock of reality.

An excellent example occurred one morning at Green Lake, Saskatchewan. The young constable on detachment, Clifford Rodriguez, was awakened just before dawn by a telephone call from a woman resident. She was pregnant and asked to be rushed to the nearest hospital, thirty-five miles away in Meadow Lake.

Apprehensively, the Mountie suggested a midwife; his training course had not covered this situation. "No," the lady insisted, "the baby's premature. I'm afraid of complications."

It was still much too early to rouse anyone else to drive her. The Mountie dutifully dressed, got in his car and picked up the woman. Sixteen miles out of Meadow Lake she told him the baby was coming. He pulled off the road, examined her and found that she was right.

She had also been right about complications. It developed into a breech birth, which the young man had to cope with from his knowledge of first aid and the sole aid of a razor blade. When the situation was under control he finished the trip to the hospital and handed over mother and child, both completely normal, except that the baby's umbilical cord was tied with the constable's shoelace.

For this impressive feat Commissioner Nicholson himself commended Constable Rodriguez. But when the incident was told in the RCMP Quarterly, the constable was not mentioned by name. The somewhat untypical story illustrates the "typical" Mountie: steady, resourceful and slightly anonymous.


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