83 minutes | Jan 17, 2023
Episode 15: Colonel Bernd Horn (Ret)
For more than 30 years Colonel Horn, OMM, MSM, CD, PhD, served in the Canadian Armed Forces, including more than 10 years of regimental service with operational combat arms units. In 1993 he was posted to the Canadian Airborne Regiment as the Officer Commanding 3 Commando. At the time of 9/11 attacks he was the Commanding Officer of First Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment. From 2007-2009 Colonel Horn was the Deputy Commander of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) and later would act as the director of the CANSOFCOM Education and Research Centre (formerly known as the Professional Development Centre). During his career Colonel Horn also earned a Masters in War Studies and later a Phd, in addition to various honours awarded by the Governor General. Colonel Horn released from the CAF in 2016 but continues to serve CANSOFCOM as the command historian, a position he fills as a civilian. In this episode Colonel Horn and I discuss the focus of much of his academic work - the history of Canada's special operators. From the WWII First Special Service Force, to the little known Canadian SAS company, to the Airborne Regiment and the standing up of JTF2 - we cover it all. You can find Colonel Horn's works published by Dundurn Press and Double Dagger Books. Show Notes 2:10 - Always wanted to serve 4:40 - Joined RCR in 1983 5:55 - The Airborne Regiment: Canada’s Cold War Commandos 10:37 - Discipline issues coming to a head in Somalia 15:10 - Academic pursuits 19:00 - Deputy Commander of CANSOFCOM 20:00 - What is SOF? 24:00 - Churchill invented SOF? 30:28 - The myth that SOF is more expensive than conventional forces 32:57 - Why do SOF operators need to look different? 32:25 - SOF want to look special 43:30 - Canadian SAS? 47:20 - Canadian Airborne Regiment 49:30 - First Special Service Force 53:00 - JTF2 57:10 - From RCMP SERT teams to JTF2 1:05 - General Hillier stands up CANSOFCOM 1:14:07 - Prototypical SOF operator? 1:16:40 - Canadian SOF culture and keeping a low profile 1:21:52 - Unleash the Dogs of War, new book published by Double Dagger Under Reserve thanks Colonel Horn for his time, and his service.
69 minutes | Nov 28, 2022
Episode 14: CO John B. Williams (Ret.)
John Williams worked for the Correctional Service of Canada for over 30 years. His service included time at the notorious BC Penitentiary and the Kent Institution - both maximum security prisons. In 2020 John wrote Life on the Inside: One Correctional Officer's Story where he provides readers with a frank look at the highs and lows of working a federal corrections officer. His account of a career spent walking the "high fives" is at times graphic, but it's not sensational. John makes it clear that maximum security prisons are not a place where you'd want to spend any time as an inmate, but he doesn't describe these institutions as terrible places to work. The work was taxing, and the threat of violence was always present - but like so many men and women who serve in uniform John found strength and sense of community with his colleagues. Show Notes: 4:20 – Discharged from the Navy. No what do I do? 6:20 – The jail in New Westminster was hiring 10:00 – BC Pen housed the worst of the worst 16:00 – Advice from an old con 18:00 – Shawshank Redemption 22:50 – Why do stabbings happen in prison? 25:25 – Gangs in prison 29:33 – Prostitution in prison 34:15 – Drug dogs 40:40 – Sexual pressure on inmates leads to suicide 44:50 – Female correctional officers 49:40 – What’s the hole? 52:40 – Protective custody 56:15 – Guards ever get star struck? If you enjoyed our conversation, and want to read the book, you can find it here. Under Reserve thanks John for his time, and his service.
58 minutes | Oct 12, 2022
Episode 13: Dr. Scott Blandford
Dr. Scott Blandford is an Assistant Professor at Wilfred Laurier University. He is an instructor and program coordinator for undergraduate and graduate studies in policing and public safety. Prior to his career in academia Scott was a police officer for 30 years with he London Police Service in Ontario. He retired at the rank of sergeant. The current focus of Scott's research and writing is the selection, and educational requirements for new police officers. In this episode we explore Scott's views on whether it should be mandatory (as opposed to merely preferred) for police officers in Canada to have post-secondary education at the college or university level, and if policing can be described as a profession. Under Reserve thanks Dr. Blandford for his time, and his service. Show Notes: 3:24 – Getting a start in policing. Applied to RCMP at 18. 12:00 – London, Ontario 13:15 – door stop conversation on domestic call 15:40 – educational qualifications to be a police officer 17:15 – education beyond high school de facto requirement to be police officer 25:15 – cultural resistance to police hiring candidates with university education 28:04 – police promote to rank rather than to position 31:40 – a service that acts professionally vs. a professional service. Policing in Canada is not a profession. 43:40 – police officers aren’t paid to lose 45:50 – militarization of police 50:10 – less-lethal force 54:30 – would you do it all over again?
70 minutes | Sep 28, 2022
Episode 12: Inspector Tim "Gunny" Turner (Ret.)
Tim “Gunny” Turner joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1982 and by 1986 was a member of 2 Commando/Canadian Airborne Regiment. His time in the CAF included three years in the Patrol Pathfinder platoon, qualifying as a master sniper, time with the Sky Hawks parachute team, and tours in Cyprus, Croatia, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Sierra Leone. Gunny retired from the regular force in 2008 at the rank of Master Warrant Officer, followed by a stint in the reserves. Gunny pursued a second career with the Alberta Sheriffs, spending over eight years with the Executive Protection Unit (EPU) holding the ranks of 1st Regimental Sgt Major and Inspector. During his time with the Sheriffs Gunny worked for Premiers Redford, Hancock, Prentice, Notley and Kenney as well as Lt. Govs Norman Kwong, Col Don Ethell and Lois E. Mitchell. My conversation with Gunny offers listeners a peek inside the capabilities and operations of Alberta Sheriffs, and in particular its Executive Protection Unit. Under Reserve thanks Gunny for his time, and his service. Show Notes: 2:15 – Gunny meets the Prince of Wales (Now King Charles III) 6:35 – Wanted to be a paratrooper since age 12 8:05 – Composition of the Canadian Airborne Regiment 9:50 – Focus of Canadian Airborne Regiment 12:20 Canadian Airborne Regiment sea and land capabilities 16:15- Disbanding of Airborne Regiment laid groundwork for modern era Canadian Special Operations 17:55 – Sniper qualification and the Princess Patricia’s snipers 23:40 – Close call in Afghanistan (’06) 26:39 – Transition from regular force to reserves (’08) 30:57 – Knowing it was time to get out 33:00 – Looking at the Alberta Sheriffs 35:00 – Alberta Sheriffs course 38:54 – Day in the life of a sheriff in the Executive Protection Unit (EPU) 41:10 – Favourite premier to work for 43:55 – What goes on behind the scenes? 47:25 – When bodyguards have to go hands-on 50:00 – Role of the Advance Team 52:45 – Local law enforcement love to help 58:20- If you could do it over again 1:01 – Reflections on CAF in Afghanistan 1:05- Life post Sheriffs (2020)
77 minutes | Jun 29, 2022
Episode 11: Justice Keith Bracken (Ret.)
Keith Bracken joined the RCMP in 1963 at the age of 18. He served in uniform for 9 years before going to university and earning a law degree in 1976. He was appointed a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia in 1991 and in 2007 was elevated to the Supreme Court of British Columbia where he sat until his retirement in 2018. Judge Bracken is a rare individual who can speak from experience about life on the beat, at the bar, and on the bench. Speaking with Keith about the life of a Mountie in the 1960s and early 1970s is nothing short of amazing - for better or worse it was a very different landscape back then. His training, his responsibilities as a member, and the nature and risk profile of the work back then is very different than it is now. As he transitioned to other aspects of law enforcement (first as counsel, and later as a judge and justice) it is apparent he never lost the common touch. Keith's daughter, also a member of the RCMP, is currently serving as an instructor at Depot. Show notes: 4:02 - All mounties learned horseback riding in early 1960s 6:40 - RCMP application process took 11 months 7:08 - A day in the life of a cadet in the 1960s 11:30 - Mounties could be fired, but couldn’t quit unless they purchased their discharge 16:10 - Transition out of RCMP 19:00 - purchased discharge from RCMP to go to University of Sask 21:00 - Mounties in this era prosecuted many of their own cases - including drunk driving and assault 25:45 - Graduates law school and obtains articles in Victoria. Called to bar in 1977. 27:25 - Pathway to provincial judgeship 30:34 - Anyone teach you how to be a judge? (not really) 39:15 - Cases involving children the hardest to decide 43:10 - Experience as a police officer useful experience as a judge 45:20 - Elevation to BC Supreme Court 47:15 - Difference between BCPC and BCSC 48:40 - Faith in the jury system 50:59 - A day in the life of a BCSC justice 59:40 - BC Courtroom procedure - forms of address, communications with bench, dress and decorum 1:02:34 - Barristers meeting with judges in their chambers? 1:09 - Final reflections on rural policing Under Reserve thanks Justice (Constable) Bracken for his time, and his service,
70 minutes | Jun 2, 2022
Episode 10: Capt. Kelly S. Thompson (Ret.)
Kelly Thompson was a captain in the RCAF where she served for almost a decade before being medically discharged. She is now an instructor and mentor at the University of Kings College in Halifax, NS in its creative nonfiction writing program. Kelly’s educational and publishing credentials are impressive. She holds a BA (Hons) from York University where she studied professional writing, an MFA from UBC in creative writing, and a PhD in literary and critical studies in creative writing from the University of Gloucestershire. In 2019 McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House published her military memoir Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes From the Forces. The book was an instant Globe & Mail bestseller and was listed as one of the top 100 Books of 2019. If there was a URP book club, Girls Need Not Apply would be on the list. In this episode Kelly and I discuss her experiences growing up in a military family, and how that experience and the events of 9/11 influenced her decision to put on a uniform. We also explored many of the themes covered in her book: her experience as a young woman in basic training, dating within the military, physical performance standards, sexual harassment, career advancement and mentorship. Kelly’s next work, Still, I Cannot Save You: A Memoir of Sisterhood and Grief, also published by McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House is due out in January, 2023. Under Reserve thanks Capt. Thompson for her time, and her service.
65 minutes | May 19, 2022
Episode 9: Brad Smith, QC
Brad Smith, QC is a criminal lawyer - he advises and defends people throughout British Columbia who are under investigation by the police, charged with a criminal offence, or are otherwise in trouble with the law. He is the principal and founder of Smith Law Group https://smithlitigation.com/ Brad has more than 20 years’ experience in the criminal law arena, acting first as a federal prosecutor and now as defence counsel. As Crown Counsel, Brad prosecuted a variety of federal offences, from Fisheries Act violations to complex organized crime drug cases. As a defence lawyer Brad has defended clients charged with a wide variety of serious offences – he also represents police officers who are the subject of internal Code of Conduct hearings. Brad holds both a Bachelor and Masters of Law from Osgoode Hall in Toronto, and took silk in 2019. As a QC Brad is recognized as one of a small group of a senior barristers. I caught up with Brad shortly after he concluded a case in which his client was found not guilty of two charges of first-degree murder. The trial, which was held during the height of the pandemic, lasted more than 150 days. Show Notes Federal vs. Provincial prosecutors – 12:36 The role of the prosecutor – 15:36 R. v. Jordan – 23:55 The prosecutorial mindset – 30:23 The role of defence counsel – 32:00 Trials aren’t re- enactments of events – 35:00 The presumption of innocence – 36:55 Charter Remedies – 40:48 RCMP code of conduct hearings– 41:39 MacNeil Reports – 48:00 Complexity of the current state of criminal law – 51:30 Under Reserve thanks Brad for his time, and his service.
84 minutes | Apr 14, 2022
Episode 8: RCMP Inspector Kevin Cyr
Inspector Kevin Cyr is the OIC of British Columbia's Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team. He holds a bachelor of science from STFX University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and an LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Ontario. In this episode Kevin rolls up his sleeves and walks me through what a search warrant is, how they are obtained, and ERT's approach to executing them. Later we pivot to ERT fitness standards, improving female membership in the emergency response team program, and the social isolation some police officers face. Kevin speaks from a position of experience, education, and serious passion for policing and the work ERT performs. Show Notes 6:20 - first posting 12:45 - Major Crimes in Surrey (2010) 15:10 - Masters of Law Osgoode Hall 18:27 - how police articulate evidence 27:59 – what is a search warrant? 33:52 - executing search warrants 39:54 - no-knock entries 43:43 - Seb Lavoie (friend of the show) 47:50 - origins of the SWAT team program 50:30 - manner of executing a search warrant the prerogative of police 55:06 - VPD recruitment video controversy 1:02 – how many women in ERT? 1:08:58 - ERT fitness and selection: it doesn’t matter how you get over the wall, just get over it. Try your hardest and don’t quit 1:13:05 – social isolation of police 1:18:20 Echelon Front/Extreme Ownership 1:21 – Kevin on the witness stand Under Reserve thanks Kevin for his time, and his service.
78 minutes | Apr 4, 2022
Episode 7: RCMP Superintendent Jim Elliott
Superintendent Jim Elliott is the Officer in Charge of the BC RCMP Critical Incident Program. Jim grew up in Saskatchewan, in a Mountie family, but it was an Emergency Response Team demonstration at the Saskatchewan International Tattoo & Festival that set the hook for his ERT aspirations. Jim made it through selection as a relatively young officer, working first for the part-time ERT in Saskatchewan before moving over to E Division as a full-time member of the lower mainland ERT shortly before the 2010 Olympics. In his current role Superintendent Elliott now oversees and deploys not only his former team, but also various other CIP assets including crisis negotiators, explosive disposal, police service dogs, underwater recovery (divers), and tactical marine, to name only a few. This is specialized and technical work. Jim insists that more often than not operators are performing tasks that they have drilled and rehearsed, making their operations rather clinical and procedural, and considerably less exciting than the dramatic affairs depicted on television. If you are a serving member and curious about your options within the force, or you're an outsider looking for a peek behind the operational curtain, this is the episode for you. Under Reserve thanks Superintendent Elliott for his time, and his service.
50 minutes | Mar 17, 2022
Episode 6: Cst. Scott Gibson
Cst. Scott Gibson has been a police officer for more than 20 years with a municipal department in Ontario, not far from Toronto. Scott was diagnosed with PTSD following his involvement with the investigation and aftermath of a suicide by a local high school principal. Scott has been off work now for almost four years and his ability to return to work is in doubt. Scott now focuses his energy and attention shining a spotlight on this important, and sometimes stigmatized, injury or disorder that is too common in the policing and first responder community. Scott founded PTSD Broken Sword, an apparel company that raises awareness and funds for PTSD-related causes. You can find the company store here, or learn more about its initiatives on Instagram. In our conversation Scott and I covered his training, his career, and his current journey towards recovery. Under Reserve thanks Cst. Gibson for his time, and his service.
54 minutes | Mar 10, 2022
Episode 5.2: Sgt-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and the Parliament Hill Shooting
On October 22, 2014 Sgt-at-Arms Kevin Vickers walked from his office directly into the history books. Within hours of his actions that morning, actions that he is quick to say were part of a larger effort by RCMP and parliamentary security forces, his name was known the world over as the Sgt-at-Arms who when duty called, his answer was immediate and unwavering - he grabbed his sidearm and without hesitation moved towards and engaged with the terrorist threat. In this episode, Episode 5 Part 2, Kevin and I talk about the build-up to that morning, the role and nature of the Parliamentary Protective Service, and the level of fitness and discipline he maintained to ensure he was able to execute when the situation required it. Under Reserve thanks Kevin for his time, and his service.
56 minutes | Mar 3, 2022
Episode 5.1: Sgt-at-Arms Kevin Vickers
Kevin Vickers, by any standard, has had an exceptional career in law enforcement and public service more broadly. After 29 years with the RCMP Kevin accepted a new challenge: the administration of security on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, first as the Director of Security for the House of Commons in 2005 and then in 2006 was appointed to the office of Sergeant-at-Arms. The rest is history. On October 22, 2014 Kevin was instrumental in bringing an end to a terrorist attack on on our seat of government. But before his life, and the lives of so many others changed forever that day, Kevin enjoyed a full and dynamic policing career that took him across the country, between sections and departments, and up the ranks. He retired as Chief Superintendent. In part 1 of this two-part episode Kevin and I talk about his decision to join the Mounties, the curriculum at Depot in the late 1970s and policing in the pre-Charter era. We cover his time up north, in Alberta, and the 17 murder confessions he obtained. Despite his achievements and his profile, Kevin is modest, genuine and focused on the public good. Under Reserve thanks Kevin for time, and his service.
76 minutes | Feb 24, 2022
Episode 4: Cpl. Bruce Moncur
Bruce Moncur, a native of Windsor, Ontario joined the Canadian Army Reserves before 9/11. He enlisted with the Essex and Kent Scottish, an infantry regiment. It was a good job at a time and in a part of Canada where reasonably well paying employment for young people was hard to come by. Come August, 2006 Cpl. Moncur, now 22 years of age, was deployed to Afghanistan and within a few weeks would find himself in the Canadian-led offensive, Operation Medusa, west of Kandahar city. Unfortunately a friendly-fire incident with American close air support seriously injured Cpl. Moncur, bringing his war to an end. After recovering from his injuries, which included serious brain damage, Cpl. Moncur began carving out a roll for himself as an advocate for veteran's issues. His most recent initiative, Valour in the Presence of the Enemy, is a not for profit organization pressing for the award of a Victoria Cross to a deserving Afghanistan war veteran, and obtaining a critical reexamination of Canadian heroes from earlier conflicts who may have been overlooked for this prestigious honour. The Victoria Cross is the highest award within the Canadian honours system. It is bestowed for “the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or preeminent act of valour or self sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.” Since the award was patriated from the British honours system in 1993 it has never been conferred. You can learn more about Valour in the Presence of the Enemy by finding it on Facebook, or on Twitter @CanadianCross or on Instagram @100thvictoriacross Under Reserve thanks Cpl. Moncur for his time, and his service.
50 minutes | Feb 17, 2022
Episode 3: Professor Barbara Messamore
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Queen of Canada: she's on our money and our stamps, her portraits hang in government buildings, courthouses and arenas across the country. Her son Charles, Prince of Wales, will soon be our king. It has been 70 years since our Queen ascended to the throne, but what is her role in a modern Canada? And who is the Governor General and how do they fit into the hierarchy? What powers do these historic offices still hold? In this episode I dig into these issues with history professor Barbara Messamore, an expert on the role of the Crown in Canada, and in particular the function of the office of the Governor General. Professor Messamore holds a PhD in history from the University of Edinburgh and is a member of the executive committee for the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada.
58 minutes | Feb 10, 2022
Episode 2: RCMP Supt. Stacey Talbot (Ret.) and Sgt. Phil Graham (Ret.)
Supt. Talbot is the founder and President of Ned's Wish, a charitable organization committed to supporting retired police service dogs through the provision of financial assistance, education, and connections in the broader community of families living with retired police dogs. Ned was an RCMP police service dog, born May, 2003 at the Police Service Dog Training Centre (PDSTC) in Innisfail, Alberta. Ned retired from the RCMP in December of 2010 after a very full career and a collection of injuries to prove it. In Ned's third month of service he and his handler were called to a violent domestic dispute in Courtenay, B.C. where the suspect had attacked and injured the first two responding RCMP members. The suspect fled over the steep banks of a nearby river. Ned tracked the suspect down the banks and through heavy brush to an area on the banks of the fast-moving river. The suspect then dove into the rapids to avoid apprehension. Without hesitation Ned and his handler dove into the river and pursued the suspect to the opposite bank. Unfortunately Ned was sucked into the rapids and nearly drowned before being pulled free by his handler. The suspect was apprehended shortly thereafter. Years later Ned survived a severe car crash while on route to an Emergency Response Team call in Nanaimo, B.C. A male suspect was threatening to blow up a building at the ferry docks, and while on route to the call a vehicle that had run a red light struck at high speed the police SUV that Ned was travelling in. The suburban sustained severe damage. Nevertheless, Ned was still able to attend the call and assisted with the apprehension of the suspect. In his retirement, after a rocky start with a different family, Ned came to live with Supt. Talbot. As she explains, after a career like this, PSD Ned had significant veterinary needs in his retirement. This was the starting the point for Ned's Wish. You can learn more about Ned's Wish here . Sgt. Graham was a PSD handler in the RCMP for a decade before working as as a full time PSD trainer and instructor at PDSTC. Sgt. Graham explains the powerful skillset police service dogs possess and how they are used by the RCMP to apprehend suspects, locate missing persons, and build relationships with the community. Sgt. Graham now provides canine detection services for the private sector. You can learn more about him and his business here . Ned's Wish also recommends that listeners interested in supporting its charitable work consider buying a bag of coffee from Support Retired Legends, which you can learn about here . Under Reserve thanks Supt. Talbot and Sgt. Graham for their time, and their service.
81 minutes | Feb 3, 2022
Episode 1: RCMP Divisional Sergeant Major Seb Lavoie (Ret).
Sebastien Lavoie was a police officer with the RCMP for over 20 years. Born and raised in Quebec, Seb spent a few years in the Canadian Armed Forces, pre-9/11, before joining the national police force. Seb's career revolved around the Mounties' specialized and elite units: first as an in flight safety officer (air marshal) before moving on to be a full time member of the BC Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team (ERT) both as a breacher and later as a team leader. He retired in 2021 as the Divisional Sergeant Major for “E” Division (British Columbia), the RCMP’s largest division. We covered a lot of ground in our discussion, but the focus was always on the teams: selection, training, decision-making, leadership – and his experiences in the courtroom. In this episode we invite listeners to take a peek behind the curtain, and get an insider's perspective on how ERT operates in BC. Seb was a devoted police officer. He was committed to his craft and the maintenance of not only his high personal standards, but also elevating the standards of the officers that worked around him. Today he brings that same pursuit of excellence to consulting. He is the CEO of Raven Strategic Inc., which provides leadership and performance training as well as security related services. He remains active in the fitness and BJJ communities. He is working on a book with a former Canadian SOF operator. You can find Seb on Instagram @slavccmdr Under Reserve thanks Seb his time, and his service.