Vol. 76, No. 3Q & A

Adapting to the environment

Depot teaches more than skills

A/Commr. Louise Lafrance inspects a troop on their graduation day. Credit: Chrystal Normand, RCMP

The one thing every member of the RCMP has in common is that they've all spent six months at Depot, the RCMP's training academy in Regina, Sask. Sigrid Forberg spoke with A/Commr. Louise Lafrance, the commanding officer of Depot, to hear more about how they're shaping the future of the force.

What is the goal of Depot?

In simple words, the goal is to create Mounties. I think any member of the RCMP will know what that means. The Mounties have played a very unique role in Canada's history and continue to be the leaders in many fields. We are the only organization that prepares municipal, provincial, federal and international police officers, including opening more than 150 different possible career paths for them within the force. We provide a modern, world-class training to our cadets while preserving our history and instilling pride to be part of one of the most recognized police forces in the world.

How have the recruits changed over time?

You know, obviously, generation to generation, people change. And we, as an organization, have to adapt to the new generation, not the other way around. But the basic criteria — the basic foundation of a Mountie — hasn't really changed. When I talk to cadets today on their graduations and I go back 29 years to my own, I see that the people who are attracted to this organization are very similar. They want to help others, they want to serve and protect Canadians, they want to make a difference.

What are the qualities you look for in an ideal recruit?

Living and breathing the core values of the organization is important. Treat people with respect, have compassion, be honest, have integrity, own your mistakes, be accountable, be and look professional. I admire those who have emotional intelligence, who are humble and who are simply "good people aiming to influence people positively." I want people who are bright, people who are willing to go the extra mile.

How does Depot help bring out those qualities?

One of the very first things I tell the cadets when they arrive is we are not trying to change who they are, we simply want them to be the best they can be, to dig deep and show us "what they've got."

I believe the way the training is set up, the way they have to earn everything, from uniforms, to marching orders, et cetera, give them a sense of accomplishment, while never taking anything for granted. We teach them to pay attention to details, we enhance their problem-solving skills to address and adapt to the needs of the communities they will be serving, we teach them to work with partners. We teach them the skills they will need to survive out in the field and much more.

What should cadets take away from their time at Depot?

First off, I want them to never forget why they joined and the pride they felt on their graduation week. I want them to understand why they did all of that — to help, serve and protect Canadians. As simple as that. I want them to feel confident that they've received the best training possible they needed to start their Cadet Field Coaching and the rest of their careers.
I also tell them not to go through their career pondering on missed opportunities, missed promotions, missed transfers, etcetera. If you think that way, you're going to live your life looking backwards. Focus on the way forward, there's something else coming for you, be positive, love what you do.

What do you see as the future of the organization?

I often say this at graduations: I am confident the organization is in good hands.

If we continue what we're doing, making sure we get the right people, we'll be fine as an organization. Are these new members going to be exactly like the members before them? No. We're not exactly like the people before us either. These cadets graduating are fantastic. I am so proud of them. And I hope when they arrive in the field, people are also supportive of who they are, and continue forming them to be the best Mounties they can be.

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