REINED IN: RCMP struggles to sustain Musical Ride tradition amidst recruitment challenges

RCMP Musical Ride
RCMP Musical RideCourtesy RCMP

A concerning internal audit has revealed that recruitment challenges within the RCMP are threatening the future of the iconic Musical Ride, says Blacklock's Reporter.

The audit indicates that the RCMP is experiencing a significant decline in recruitment, making it difficult to allocate constables for the Musical Ride performances.

According to the report, divisions within the RCMP are unable to release a sufficient number of members annually to ensure the effective and efficient operation of the Musical Ride.

The audit highlighted that the team has not had a full complement of 32 riders in years due to staffing shortages, jeopardizing the sustainability of this cherished tradition.

"The limited availability of new riders is a significant threat to its sustainability," emphasized the report, noting that there are currently only 24 riders available for the Musical Ride.

Auditors pointed out that the Musical Ride has struggled to fill its positions since the 2018 tour, reflecting the ongoing recruitment challenges faced by the RCMP.

The decline in RCMP recruitment numbers has been a long-term issue, with figures showing a significant decrease in volunteer applications to join the Mounties. Testimony to the Commons human resources committee in 2022 revealed a stark drop in applications from 11,800 to 6,300 year over year. Additionally, the number of graduates from the RCMP’s Regina police academy has plummeted from 1,508 in 2007 to 380 in 2021.

While considering alternatives to address staffing shortages, the report mentioned that hiring private equestrians was contemplated but ultimately deemed too risky.

"The Musical Ride could be comprised of or supplemented by civilians to free up regular members for police work," suggested the Evaluation report. However, concerns were raised about the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Musical Ride if civilian riders were utilized instead of police officers.

In response to the recruitment challenges, the report proposed hiring civilians for roles such as stable hands, farriers, and saddlers, thereby ensuring the continuity of the Musical Ride tradition.

Despite its $11.7 million annual cost, the Musical Ride remains a cherished tradition and enduring symbol of Canada, albeit with its value primarily rooted in nostalgia.

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