From Mounties on horseback to electric vehicles—150 years of change

B.C., Air Services, West Coast Marine Services, Emergency Response Team

2023-05-17 13:29 PDT

File # Police Week

You may have seen the video of Mounties on horseback leading King Charles’ Coronation procession in London earlier this month.

While horsepower—literally—is still very much part of the RCMP tradition—the officers on horseback during the March West 150 years ago, couldn’t begin to imagine how we are getting around today.

Collage of That was Then old RCMP cars and boats

From the latest electric and all-terrain vehicles to helicopters and Zodiac vessels, the transportation deployed by the RCMP 150 years after the March West, makes rescue and enforcement efficient, safe and pretty cool.

The latest delivery, earlier this year, was the fourth and final in a fleet of Zodiac Mach II Hurricane vessels. This one, is 38-feet long, travels at 60 nautical miles per hour (112 kph) and is capable of transporting up to 14 police officers to emergency situations up and down the west coast of British Columbia.

New RCMP photos of transportation, horses, boats, planes, vehicles

These are state-of-the-art vessels and one of the most well-constructed boats in the world, says Sergeant Jim McLeod, the Team leader of the BC RCMP’s the Tactical Marine Operations Group (TMOG).

The vessel, constructed by the Delta, BC-based Zodiac company, is purposely built to deliver Emergency Response Teams to emergencies on the water. These are open-ocean, all-weather vessels that can perform in all kinds of conditions. It also has the ability to respond to remote communities along the coast that would otherwise be difficult to access, adds Sgt. McLeod.

West Coast Marine Services, which provides frontline and marine policing to support coastal detachments, also provides tactical vessel expertise when the ERT or other tactical teams are deployed.

The RCMP’s Air Services based in the Lower Mainland has a mix of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, 10 in all, from within six bases in the province. The latest acquisition in Air Services is the H145 Airbus helicopter that was recently involved in a spectacular rescue of an injured skier in the Duffey Lake backcountry region of BC.

The Air 5 pilot, accompanied by a member of the RCMP Critical Incident Program and a Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team (ERT) member was in the area and responded. This is believed to be the first such hoist rescue of a civilian by the RCMP.

The technical capabilities of Air 5 made it an excellent platform to provide operational support in the diverse geography of the province said the Officer-in-Charge of BC RCMP Air Services, Inspector Kevin Kilar at the time of the rescue last month.

Last year, RCMP Air Services celebrated its 85th Anniversary. It’s a need, especially in British Columbia, where many communities can only be accessed by plane or boat.

Earlier this year West Shore Detachment introduced the first fully electric RCMP vehicle, a Tesla Model Y that had been fully equipped to meet policing standards. The West Shore RCMP provides 24-hour policing, so our vehicles are in constant use, said Superintendent Todd Preston, Officer-in-Charge of the West Shore RCMP.

In 2020, the average frontline West Shore police vehicle cost approximately $11,100 in fuel and maintenance fees. Since then, costs have gone up due to soaring fuel prices and inflation. We predict the cost of charging and maintaining an electric vehicle will be significantly lower than the cost of maintaining a gas-powered vehicle. Since a single gas-powered vehicle emits approximately 2.3 kilograms of CO2 per litre of gas, the positive environmental impact of replacing internal combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles is also significant, Supt. Preston said.

British Columbia’s diverse environment also means that electric or traditional police vehicles are not always capable of getting officers to where they have to go. Fortunately, detachments from across the province have access to all terrain vehicles and snowmobiles that allow officers to reach remote locations to conduct investigations and provide service to the public.

From Mounties on horseback in 1873 to the force’s first electric police vehicle, the RCMP has modernized its fleet to keep pace with today and well into the future.

Old RCMP vehicle with member in red serge

Old plane with officer on horse beside it


Seven officers in uniform around an old car

Inkster RCMP boat tugging a float plane


Air 5 helicopter in air over ERT boats in water

Bike patrol member on trail beside water


Patrol car with lights on in the evening beside water at the beach

Member on ATV on a beach with driftwood

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