Superintendent Dale Carr: A man on a mission


2024-01-20 08:44 PST

Many will know the face of Superintendent Dale Carr. For over twenty years, he spent much of his career in front of the camera as a Media Relations Officer. But he has done so much more over his 37 years as a BC RCMP police officer. 

When Carr was in a Grade 10 Law class, the instructor asked if anyone wanted to go on a Ride-Along with the police. Carr instantly shot up his hand. 

I remember sitting in the Chilliwack Detachment lobby when a big, tall RCMP officer enters asking, ‘Who’s next?’ recalls Superintendent Dale Carr, Operations Officer for BC Highway Patrol. I jumped up real quick!

The experience had a profound impact on the teenager. He decided that night that he wanted to be an RCMP officer. He applied, wrote and passed the entrance exam.

While waiting to hear back from the RCMP, he and his wife moved to Powell River where he managed a jewelry store. The couple decided to start a family and would eventually welcome two little girls.

He befriended the Staff Sergeant in charge of the Powell River Detachment who mentioned that the RCMP was looking for Special Constables. He was accepted, trained at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Academy, known as Depot Division. In 1986, he was posted to RCMP Headquarters as a Special Constable with Executive Diplomatic Protection Services. Carr was just 25-years-old.

Carr’s goal always was to work on patrol as a street cop interacting with the public. After four years as a Special Constable, Carr took additional training at Depot in Regina and was promoted to Constable in 1990.

To me, being on patrol means dealing the public, wearing the uniform, helping people, says Carr.

After a few years on General Duty he transitioned to the Surrey Traffic Unit where he spent the next seven years of his career. He was promoted to corporal as the Traffic Supervisor and then became the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer for the Unit.

I worked on a couple of big investigations and put people in jail for 10 years for dangerous driving causing death, says Carr.

Later, while working in Whalley, Carr began doing media relations for the Traffic Unit off the side of his desk. He explained issues so clearly, the public understood. Carr was a natural in front of the camera.

From the beginning of my career, the media just seemed to always be following me around, says Carr.

In fact, in 1996, a photo of Cst. Dale Carr carrying a three-year-old boy wrapped in a yellow blanket was on the cover of Peace Arch News. The boy was the lone survivor of his family, who were victims of a murder suicide by the father who allegedly shot his wife, two daughters, and a 60-year-old woman before shooting himself. The boy escaped and was scooped up by a neighbour. Carr rescued the boy and brought him to safety.

News article image of Cst. Dale Carr rescuing a three-year-old boy.

That same year, Carr attended the first drug recognition class and was trained in techniques used by US police forces to detect and measure the effects of drug impairment in drivers. He became one of only seven Drug Recognition Experts in Canada at the time. In addition to the fulltime training, he made three to five trips to LA for practical, hands-on experience to obtain the full certification. He was a man on a mission.

Drug-impaired drivers are as dangerous as those under the influence of alcohol, says Carr. Abuse of both illicit and prescription drugs can cause serious impairment of judgement and motor functions.

News article image of Carr attended the first drug recognition course in 1996

A few years later, Carr took the BC RCMP Communications Media Relations Course and became the Media Relations Officer (MRO) for the Langley Detachment in 2000.

He left that role and became the head of Langley’s Crime Reduction Unit and Bike Squad.
When he returned to the detachment after a night shift on his bike, he was asked to meet the following day with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), and was told to wear a suit.

Carr met with the Officer in Charge of IHIT who said they were thinking of having a dedicated MRO and that his name came up. He thought that Carr was someone the team would trust and that he would fit it well.

I said that I would need to think about it, says Carr. He paused a few seconds, turned and said, I thought about it and I would 100% love to do this.

It was an opportunity to build a new Media Relations Section from the ground up. He would develop the communication strategy of how IHIT would work with all the Lower Mainland detachments and municipal police partners. That was back in 2006.

Carr was excited. I’ll be the spokesperson who would talk about all the great work the IHIT investigators were doing holding people to account for murder.

Before starting in the MRO role, he was asked to work for several months as an investigator on the Team, working on a number of homicides.

He began in 2007 to lay the foundation for the Media Relations Section, meeting with the police of jurisdiction and discuss how they could make it work.

Carr was someone the public instantly recognized and felt they could trust. He quickly built public confidence in the investigators and in IHIT. Whenever there was a murder at a residence or a shooting in a public location, Carr was front and centre, explaining what happened and reassuring people that they were not in danger.

For five years, Carr was the Media Relations Officer for IHIT before transferring to Chilliwack as Patrol Supervisor. He was in that role a mere 18 months before being promoted to Sergeant and transferring back to Surrey. There he was a Senior patrol supervisor working in the City Centre area when another change occurred.

Then I got a call from Assistant Commissioner, Bill Fordy, Surrey Detachment Commander, asking if I would consider being the supervising officer overseeing events, media relations and emergency planning, says Carr.

That was the first of many more promotions from Staff Sergeant to Inspector and now Superintendent at BC Highway Patrol in charge of Operations. He is highly respected by the membership and together with the Officer in Charge of BC Highway Patrol, Chief Superintendent Holly Turton, have transformed BCHP into a vital, innovative program. Now new candidates can opt to enter BCHP now directly from Depot and they are attracting a number of new recruits.

The officers at BC Highway Patrol do a lot of great work that I think largely goes unrecognized, adds Carr. It’s not the sexy stuff. It's not the homicide investigator; it's not the drug investigator; it's not the undercover guy.

People think that all BCHP officers do is give out tickets, but they do a lot more. It’s BCHP that investigate when people die in a crash. They make our highways safer through commercial vehicle enforcement and enforce the Motor Vehicle Act on BC highways.

Photo of Dale Carr in Red Serge on a motorcycle

It's an extremely dangerous job, adds Carr. They're working on the side of the road while vehicles are traveling at 120 and higher. People don't obey the law to slow down and pull over. They never do. I just witnessed it again the other day.

I’ve been to hundreds of fatal crashes throughout my career, says Carr. When you go to a crash, and see the carnage, it’s very violent. It’s about the circumstances of how the people die. They are often just driving down the highway, minding their own business, and another vehicle collides with their car. It’s so senseless and preventable.

One such incident haunts Carr to this day. After a woman, her parents and sister, saw a play downtown, they took the SkyTrain home. A Grade-school teacher, she wanted to pick up the baby chicks that had hatched from her school before driving to her parent’s house in her yellow Mustang.

It was a horrific crash where a half-ton van hits the centre median, launches, and literally crushes right on top of her Mustang, recalls Carr. Her father can’t understand why she is taking so long. And then he hears on the radio that there had been a serious fatal crash involving a Mustang. He knew it was her and rushes to the scene. The other driver was impaired.

That’s why traffic officers have less tolerance for infractions on the road. They want to change driving behaviour so they don’t have to deal with those catastrophic events.

When you are in traffic and you see those things and you know it is preventable, you want to do the enforcement, says Carr. Drivers are going to get a ticket.

Many have heard of the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service (CARS) programs but they may not realize that these teams of experts are part of BC Highway Patrol. CARS is the provincial forensic unit for collision investigation. There is also the Integrated Impaired Driving Unit and the Traffic Police Dog Service who detect illicit drug and firearms in vehicles.

One of my goals is it to ensure that these units get better recognition for the great work they do, says Carr.

In his exciting and dynamic career, he recalls one very special occasion.

One of the highlights of my career and very proud moment, was being able to present my daughter with her badge in 2007, says Carr. Sergeant Rochelle Carr now is a Watch Commander at Mission Detachment.

Carr will retire in early 2024.

Photo of Superintendent Dale Carr

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BC RCMP Communications Services

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