'Diversity is a fact': RCMP to update its uniform and dress manual
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has updated its uniform and dress manual with the aim to make all members feel included.
"Are things equal to everyone who is present? So we were able to detect some things that weren't fair, that were constantly exemptions to the policy and realized okay we need to make some changes.” said Staff Sgt.-Maj. Janie Perreault of the RCMP. “We worked with a lot of federal partners and people in health and safety. And we came up with a new policy that was safe and inclusive and also kept our meaningful traditions into account."
Perreault has been with the force for 23 years and said she prefers to wear her hair in a bun, but is happy members now have the choice.
"Always in a bun,” she said. “I've done it for 23 years. I'm a creature of habit by now, I prefer the look but I think that goes a long way that that is my preference."
Now with the changes to the manual that came into effect in May, RCMP members can wear their hair in a bun, ponytail or braid. Before, members could only sport a mustache, but now they can grow out a beard too.
But these new changes also aim to keep safety on the top of mind as well. For example, if someone’s hair is in their face, that will have to change, or if an officer is required to wear an oxygen mask, that member will have to shave.
Tattoos are also now allowed to be shown while officers are in their uniforms. Before tattoos needed to be covered up, but now they can be shown, just as long as they are appropriate.
"If someone shows up to a call and it's a man with a bun or a ponytail, a beard and maybe a tattoo, that may go a long way with some of the clients that we would have had more barriers with before," said Perreault.
The uniform and dress manual was last changed in 1975. Part of the reason why changes were made then, is because in women were allowed into the force in 1974.
The manual has also changed its language and has removed all gender specific terms. In the former policy, officers who wear a turban, hijab or dastar needed to ask for an exemption from the manual, but now those members don't need to ask to wear their cultural or religious apparel.
"Diversity is a fact, but inclusion that's a state of mind and I think that's a good base to start that is in your basic policies," said Perreault.