A career in the RCMP can be quite a journey
B.C., This Is Who We Are
2019-11-27 09:14 PST
She’s been everywhere from British Columbia to Haiti and the former Yugoslavia and back to her roots in B.C. For Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, the Commanding Officer of BC RCMP, this career has been
quite a journey.
Even 32 years in I still absolutely love my job and it’s much more than I ever expected it to be, she states.
According to D/Commr. Strachan, there were two things she thought of doing while growing up: being a teacher or a firefighter.
No one was hiring teachers when I was getting out of university, and I feared not succeeding as a firefighter since there were few female firefighters back then, says D/Commr. Strachan, but she knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s why she chose law enforcement.
Growing up in Vernon, BC, she lived in the same house until she went off to postsecondary school. She was the youngest of three children. Her father was a vice principal and her mother was a nurse. Both parents encouraged education and open-minded thinking. Her mom also encouraged her to be a change agent, but in the 1980s, there were not a lot of women in law enforcement.
She had an uncle in RCMP who, over his 35 year career, was posted all over BC. She describes him as an
old school staff sergeant but it was he who also encouraged her to consider the RCMP. Though women in the RCMP were still relatively new the 1980’s, he was a champion for them.
Growing up in Vernon all I saw was the RCMP. So I applied in 1986-87 while finishing an under grad degree and was hired in 1988, she explains.
Instead of going straight to Depot, she went to French Language Training in Montreal. She says she was glad for a chance to gain some more education and to experience a different culture - especially as a small town girl from BC. The training came in handy as she did eventually end up working in Quebec and was thankful to have experienced and learn about Quebecoise culture.
Following her time at Depot, D/Commr. Strachan was initially posted in Ottawa working various federal policing duties. After two years, having grown-up around small town policing, she wanted to try uniform policing and in 1993, she got her wish and was transferred to Whistler to work in general duty.
During her career she has had 13 physical relocations. In each of these, she says wanted to challenge herself, learn something different and explore different cultures.
Growing up in the same house in the same small town, I never thought that I would be the type of person who would crave so much physical relocation and change, she explains. Over the course of her career she has done an array of police work, including Highway Patrol, General Duty, Human Resources, Peace Keeping, Internet Based Child Exploitation, Drug Section, Federal Major Crime and National Security, Specialized Operation Support, Indigenous Policing and Policy and Governance work. Each opportunity has made her feel challenged and accomplishing her original goal as a law enforcement officer; to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
When asked about one memorable experience from her career that really stood out, D/Commr. Strachan reflected on the early morning,
in 1996, when I was on a peace keeping mission in Haiti, in order to keep the peace, we would do night patrols and go out with the military and local Haitian police.
On that night she was out with members of the Pakistani military and police officers from Haiti and Djibouti. D/Commr. Strachan was the only woman and Canadian in the group, as she would quickly come to realize.
There was a young lady going into labour in a little shack we were passing by, we were flagged over by her mom. The entire patrol contingent looked at me, I was the only woman in the group, they wanted me to go deliver the baby, she explains.
One of the Haitian translators for the Pakistani military officer, was also a nurse. He and I delivered this little baby girl. We worked with whatever we could find, we sterilized a razor blade with alcohol, cut the umbilical cord and tied off with string. This was a country that was struggling to gain independence, and yet here on this dirt floor at four in the morning, there was this baby born. This is the kind of moment in my career when I reflect
wow because I would never have thought this is what my career would look like. That is a moment that truly sticks out in my career as a highlight.
In her role today, as the Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP, D/Commr Strachan says her life has been so much richer as a result of the endless possibilities that have been open to her in her career.
I really encourage people who are looking to join the RCMP to expand their thinking, especially those who wonder what moving around might be like. You get to travel, see other locations, and expand your life experiences, adding that she worked right in the heart of Montreal for two years.
How often do you put yourself in situation where you have to think on your feet and work in your second language?
If you’re looking to join the RCMP and have a family there is a lot more support for employees who want to balance work and family life, it is not easy but it is possible. I was a Commissioned officer when I became a mom at 44 years of age. The organization supported me immensely through my maternity and parental leave, yet in 1988 when I joined the RCMP, there were no leave options for parents, that is positive change.
After 32 years of service, when asked about her favourite part of the job now, D/Commr. Strachan talks about how she’s come full circle. I have managed to stay true to my career goal of making a difference in people’s lives. At this point in my career, I invest that energy into my colleagues and the employees of the BC RCMP, I work for them.
If I invest in them, I trust that they in turn will do a tremendous job in the communities in which they serve. If I can support them in being the best they can be, the residual is a positive environment in which others work.
D/Commr. Strachan wants to encourage anyone considering a career in the RCMP, whether that is as a civilian employee or a police officer, to know there is an amazing array of work within the organization, with so many cultures, diversity, and different styles of policing. With so many opportunities available you will constantly evolve as a person if you appreciate those experiences. She reflects back on her parent’s key life lessons growing up: to be a change agent and to welcome and encourage differences. Her career in the RCMP has certainly provided opportunity for that and will do the same for others, it can be quite a journey for you also.
The RCMP is looking for individuals with unique background that bring these experiences to their job. If you are interested in a career with the RCMP please visit our Recruiting page for more information and how to apply: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/police-officer-careers.
Cst. Erika Dirsus
Media Relations Officer
E Division Pro Active Recruiting
14200 Green Timbers Way , Mailstop 1109, Surrey, BC V3T 6P3
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