RCMP – It’s the best place to be


2024-02-22 13:26 PST

Tragically, Gilles passed away late last year. He is survived by his loving wife, Debbie, and is missed dearly by all those who knew and worked with him. This interview was conducted just weeks before his tragic death.

Most people, after a 35-year career, would look forward to retirement. Not Staff Sergeant Gilles Déziel. This was a man whose unique set of skills was recognized from the day he earned his University Degree and then graduated from the RCMP Training Academy, otherwise known as Depot in 1986. The Turkish Embassy in Ottawa had just been attacked by terrorists in 1985. Déziel was posted in Ottawa for six months as part of a contingent charged with protecting all the embassies in the capital city. Thus, began a career of international travel, working in counterterrorism, training law enforcement officers of the highest ranks around the world, and peacekeeping.

Déziel had a remarkable career that very few could even imagine possible. He left Ottawa for his first posting in Nanaimo where he spent seven years. Then, the Oka Crisis occurred in Quebec. Déziel transferred to Kahnawake, south of Montreal, near Mohawk territory, where he conducted investigations, enforced the Customs & Excise Act, and performed traffic law enforcement. He later transferred to the Crime Prevention Victim Services/Public Relations Unit in RCMP Montreal Headquarters where he had his first taste of public relations and media relations.

In the beginning, I was the only Media Relations Officer for the entire province of Quebec, covering 35 detachments, said Déziel in his interview last fall. He spent six years as the MRO for the province in the mid-1990s.

It was around that time that Déziel was trained in Police Protective Services, also known as the VIP program, that protects designated individuals in Canada and abroad. VIP protection is provided at government events across the country. They also perform consulate liaison work.

In 1995, I was seconded to the VIP unit in Montreal and became a bodyguard for the Consul General of Israel, said Déziel.

Protective Services is the section that protects our Prime Ministers and Déziel performed VIP duties for both Right Honourable Brian Mulroney and Right Honourable Jean Chrétien.

I drove Brian Mulroney to his office every day, remembered Déziel. Mr. Mulroney sat in the car in the front seat with me. We had a big chat every day. I even drove his son, Nicholas, to school and picked him up at the end of the day.

He also provided Protective Services for current and ex-Presidents while they were in Canada.

I’ve met a lot of the Presidents of the United States of America, including Jimmy Carter, George Bush, and Bill Clinton, said Déziel. I was working when President Clinton met with the President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, at the Five Sails Restaurant in the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Photo of S/Sgt. Déziel as a Sword Bearer for the Order of St. John National Investiture in the Ottawa Senate

Many will remember the Quebec Biker War, an all-out turf war from 1994 to 2002 in Montreal between two opposing criminal motorcycle gangs who took their war to the streets terrorizing citizens. The city was rocked with bombings, arsons, and the killing of well over one hundred people, including a young child.

Law enforcement responded with the Wolverine Task Force, a Joint Task Force between the RCMP, the Montreal City Police and the Sûreté du Québec, and Déziel was one of three task force spokespersons. The daily briefings discussed all current operations for the 100 investigators with much focus on preventing the killing of innocent citizens. On December 18, 1997. Maurice (Mom) Boucher, long-time Hells Angels gang leader, was arrested and found guilty for involvement in the murders of two prison guards and the attempted murder of another guard.

Since then, Déziel had many interesting assignments, including providing media relations at the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Montreal.

I had to resolve a major crisis, recalled Déziel. Tear gas was deployed outside the building due to protests. I was the media liaison between the 3000 reporters and the organizers. All the doors had to be closed and locked. The reporters that were inside wanted to go out to film what was happening in the area where the tear gas had been deployed.

Reporters who were inside could not get out and those outside, could not get in. The reporters were not happy and Déziel had to manage the media pool to keep them safe.

I was receiving phone calls from partners and stakeholders at multiple levels, including the embassies, recalled Déziel. I was the only Media Relations Officer on the floor of this major conference so had to do many interviews in French, English and even a little Spanish.

Taking a slight detour from this world, Déziel transferred to Regina to fulfil a long-held dream of teaching at Depot, where cadets take the 26-week extensive training program. Depot is also a premier continuing education centre for police in Canada delivering highly specialized training to experienced RCMP officers and to members of other forces from around the world who want to improve their knowledge and skills.

My goal was to teach police defensive tactics, said Déziel. I have a black belt in karate.

He was soon seconded to the Canadian Law Enforcement Training Unit teaching all federal agencies, from Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Parks Canada as well as First Nations Band constables. He travelled across the country to teach law enforcement techniques to the federal agencies.

He was then promoted to Sergeant becoming the spokesperson for National Communications Services at RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa from 2003 to 2005. In November 2004, as a Media Relations Officer, he was the Communication Centre coordinator at the Technical and Protective Operations Facility for the visit of U.S. President Bush to Ottawa where he oversaw operations and logistics and liaised with key stakeholders and the communication team.

Once again, his skills and expertise in defensive tactics were recognized and he was asked to be in charge of the International Training Services/Canadian Law Enforcement Training Unit. He oversaw all the international law enforcement training, as well as the training to other federal agencies. The program divided the world into three regions: the Americas, Europe and Asia.

I taught police officers around the world, said Déziel. For example, I would also travel nationally to teach say, Parks Canada, then go to teach in Europe, or South America, followed by a trip to western Canada to teach another federal agency.

Within that position, Déziel also became the RCMP Leadership and Counterterrorism Coordinator working with four police agencies: RCMP, FBI, Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Scottish Police College.

I coordinated counterterrorism training for the highest ranks of law enforcement: Police Chiefs, Deputy Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners plus senior officers at international police agencies, said Déziel. I’d coordinate the delivery of the training in Scotland, then head to the United States to the FBI Academy in Quantico, followed by another session in Canada.

Photo of S/Sgt. Déziel with the French Republic Guards in Paris

As a new challenge, Déziel signed up to be an RCMP Peacekeeper in Haiti for nine months in 2008. When he left, he joined the International Peace Operations Branch (IPOB) in Ottawa for three years where he was in charge of special projects and communications. He was responsible for the 20th anniversary of Canadian Police Officers involved in Peacekeeping/Peace Operations in 2009 and later, in 2011, he was placed in charge of IPOB logistics.

He joined the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver working as a liaison at the Games Joint Operations Centre that acted as the link between the military and the RCMP Gold Commander.

Also, in 2010, he was a Media Relations Officer for the G8 in Huntsville, Ontario. This was followed by an unplanned emergency deployment to the G20 in downtown Toronto for site security when large protests and demonstrations turned violent.

In 2012, Déziel was in charge of the Operational Skills Training Unit at the Pacific Region Training Centre (PRTC) in Chilliwack.

My position at the PRTC expanded the Core Police Skill Training Unit and my responsibilities expanded to include firearms, operational skills, field coaching, field & marine, telecommunication, technical & prime, traffic & collision investigation, crisis intervention de-escalation, and fitness training, said Déziel. At one point, I oversaw 11 programs before ending with nine upon my retirement in 2021.

Photo of S/Sgt. Déziel at the International Police Association Training Conference with an international police officer

But he hadn’t had enough and returned to the RCMP as a Reservist for the past two years. The Reservist Program hires retired or former police officers to fill in for police officers who are on leave, during special events, or at times of an emergency when extra support is required. RCMP Reservists have the same responsibilities, powers and duties of a police officer.

Because I love the RCMP, said Déziel. That’s why I came back. It’s a great organization with lots of opportunities if you want to serve and see the world. This is the best place to be!

Déziel’s skill as a Media Relations Officer was put to use during logging protests and his logistics expertise was applied during the Williams Lake wildfires.

I’ve always enjoyed all of the opportunities I have had within the RCMP, added Déziel. I have worked in municipal, provincial, federal and international policing. I’ve traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Déziel’s diverse career epitomizes the vast range of opportunities in specialized policing roles available as highlighted in the current RCMP 150 years – 150 careers campaign.

As a Reservist, he continues to provide protective services for VIPs that reside or travel to BC.

The Reservists program is another good opportunity within the RCMP upon retirement, said Déziel.

When not called on to relieve someone or provide VIP or Media Relations services, Déziel liked to play sports three or four times a week and of course, he was still travelling.

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

Released by:
BC RCMP Communications Services

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