On May 23, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, (RCMP) celebrate 150 years in Canada. In Clearwater, B.C. a family is also celebrating the graduation of their youngest son from the RCMP Academy, Depot Division in Regina, following extensive training for the past six months as a recruit.
Father of six and Clearwater RCMP Detachment Commander, Sgt. Grant Simpson, shared his feelings with Black Press about his son, Blake, 21, also becoming a police officer and heading to his first post in Williams Lake soon.
“As a father, it comes with a tremendous amount of pride, to have your son follow in your footsteps. It’s just an immense sense of pride. I don’t know how else to describe it,” said Simpson. “He’s always made smart choices and that is why he is where he is today.”
Simpson is pleased with his son’s new post to Williams Lake as it is not too far away from ‘home’ in Clearwater offering he and his wife Tracy the ability to visit him there regularly or for Blake to return to the North Thompson during breaks. He told Black Press, “Tracy and I are very family-oriented and enjoy our life and home here in Clearwater.”
When asked about why he decided to join the RCMP, Blake said spoke of growing up watching his dad serve.
“My dad was a role model I have looked up to all of my life and I’ve known since I was a kid that is what I wanted to do.”
Even though there are six kids in the family, Blake is the only one who has chosen the RCMP as a career. In the years prior to entering the academy for training he left home to play Junior hockey at 18 and then took on the role as an aquatic invasive species inspector with the B.C. Conservation Service in Invermere.
“Working with conservation was a sort of a steppingstone that led to me going to Depot. It was a great learning experience dealing with the public.”
When asked how training at the academy went, Blake said it was a great experience.
“It was a long six months, but it also goes by quickly at the same time. It’s a ton of fun but you know, there is also a certain amount of stress with that high level of training also. There are benchmarks every week that you must reach, and you are tested constantly and being evaluated all of the time. You have to really stay on top of your game and practice all the skills you are learning as much as possible. It’s a lot, but it’s so worth it in the end when you graduate.”
His favourite part of training was the firearms program.
“We did a lot of shooting on the range. Usually, two or three times a week we’d head to the range to learn different skills, shooting with a pistol, carbine and shotgun, the three main firearms in the RCMP. It was really great being instructed by very experienced line officers as they have so much to share.” Blake continued describing other interesting skill units in training such as police defensive tactics, police fitness, and police driving, saying, “When you get onto the track for the first time, you are really pushing the limits of your vehicle while hitting some really high speeds, going into turns, it’s very technical and very high-paced.”
Sgt. Simpson reflected on his time in training 26 years ago and said he was surprised when visiting the academy at Depot division recently and seeing all of the new buildings, improvement and expansion there.
There are three dormitories that have been added since Simpson was in training which were named to commemorate significant North West Mounted Police posts along the route of the force’s 1874 march west. Fort Dufferin, Fort Macleod, and Fort Walsh all house the recruits in coed buildings during their six months of training in Regina.
When asked what motivated him to become an RCMP, the detachment commander traced it back to his own childhood experiences.
“As a child growing up, we lived up the street in Powell River, not far from the detachment there and I remember having breakfast as a boy getting ready for school and watching the RCMP members getting ready to roll out to work. Staring the cars, they had single lights then on top of their police cars and were black and white back them. I was impacted by that imagery. I sensed that these members were going out to keep our community safe.”
As Simpson talks about the current team at the detachment in Clearwater, he describes what he views as priorities and the admiration he has for the members and staff working there.
“Keeping the Highway Patrol stationed in Clearwater would be my main goal right now. I’m the Sergeant (Sgt.) at the detachment, the detachment commander. I oversee and maintain the property and the detachment itself. I’ve got an incredible crew working for me. I’m so blessed to have the team that I do. They want to come to work every day and their performance is second to none.”
There are four general duty constables and a corporal that Sgt. Simpson supervises in Clearwater along with two autonomous traffic constables and a traffic corporal. They operate as their own unit within the actual detachment.
“I think it’s important to retain the highway patrol along that major corridor and have them posted along that roadway so they can spread themselves out while ensuring that motorists using Highway 5 are kept safe. We also appreciate CVSE and although they operate separate from RCMP, we do support each other as needed.”
Simpson feels that the North Thompson would greatly benefit from having additional members posted in the area, explaining there is definitely work to support at least one or more new members. With the retirement of a long time BCHP member and only female officer retiring soon he hopes that position won’t go unfilled.
As the interview concludes the father and son return to the emotions of son, Blake’s recent graduation and how the family became moved to tears as his own father presented him with his badge in a formal ceremony.
“When Dad and I did the badge presentation together I was bawling my eyes out and the whole crowd in the stands were emotional. It was such an honour.”