True and Fascinating Canadian History

Fortieth Anniversary of Women in the RCMP

1974 - 2014

A Very Special Deputy Commissioner


The First in RCMP History

Deputy Commissioner Marianne C. Ryan

by J. J. Healy


On November 28, 2013 RCMP Commissioner R. W. Paulson announced the appointment of Marianne Ryan to the senior position of 'K' Division Commanding Officer (CO) at the rank of Deputy Commissioner. Her promotion, justly deserved, began a new era in style for the RCMP in Alberta. In days of yore whereas others may have had the brawn, she has brains thus counting her among today's very best in the Force.

Marianne Ryan's successful nomination as the top law enforcement official in Alberta made Canadian history because all the previous Commanding Officers in Alberta were men. Marianne's previous experiences in policing, undertaken mostly in the western provinces, and her academic qualifications made her an excellent choice for CO. It is to Marianne's credit that she is classroom qualified, but her knowledge of the job, leadership qualities and her long career accomplishments also set her apart.

Marianne Ryan joined the Force in 1982, and following Basic Training at 'Depot' Division, she was posted to Manitoba. Marianne received her Commission to the rank of Inspector in 2001 and she then progressed through senior RCMP ranks in Alberta. 36934

Marianne realized that her role as Commanding Officer of Alberta will be very, very demanding. On occasion, she will represent the RCMP Commissioner when she reports before Alberta's Solicitor General. She is responsible for one of the largest provincial police budgets in Canada and she is also responsible for about 4,200 RCMP employees scattered throughout Alberta. As CO, she will be expected to attend all official functions related to the RCMP in Alberta and, when time permits, she will hope to visit many of the approximate 115 Detachments throughout Alberta.

Today, the job of CO is far more difficult and challenging than let's say five or ten years ago. There are high expectations which arise from inside the Force, for instance, in matters of police accountability, budgetting and transparancy, but there are also demands from external sources including smothering oversight by local, provincial and federal politicians. Investigative journalists, TV, social media and the community also create demands which did not have to worry CO's to the same high degree or intensity some years ago. Still, Marianne Ryan is fully qualified, articulate and very intelligent and she is the right person for the job at the right time. She deserves all hearty congratulations.

There will always be outspoken critics about Marianne Ryan's performance as there are with any CO. But, she has every quality to be highly successful. She is reputed to be friendly, approachable and well spoken. She is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and she has a solid grasp of crime trends in Alberta due to a previous posting as Criminal Operations Officer.


To be fully successful, any CO requires the help of everyone in the Division. Police officers under her command will continue to come under microscopic scrutiny as never before. At the street level, for instance, police officers will be expected to provide quick fixes to a wide host of ever present social problems; drugs and alcoholism, mental illness among youth and crimes related to computers and the internet. As the CO, Marianne Ryan will be expected to explain what the RCMP is doing or not doing to solve Alberta's social problems. She is unquestionably qualified to think for herself.

At another level, the rising cost of policing will raise debate especially in Alberta. But, policing costs is not the only item. Other hard questions might include the type of police officers being hired, police accountability, and whether or not the RCMP is changing its law enforcement methods to meet contemporary needs within the community.

Today, voices within the community insist on input into all issues which touch on policing. One letter, for instance, from Louise Robinson once published in the Globe & Mail is typical of public concern. While writer Ms Robinson was understandable about the difficulties met in policing, she also mused about whether or not the RCMP is accountable for their actions. Ms Robinson asked if the RCMP is prepared to be '... honest, accountable to the public, responsive to ever-changing dynamics and willing to opt for brains over brawn, from the top down'.


It is these kinds of police issues raised from within the community which Marianne Ryan is very capable of answering in a calm, intelligent and articulate way.

Today, any person chosen for a top position in the RCMP must be selected based on brain power, policing experience, academic qualifications and solid thinking skills rather than on gender. Marianne Ryan has already made the RCMP proud and she will continue to do so for a long time. Alberta is fortunate to have won her.

Congratulations again Ma'am.

Source & Appreciation: photo of Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan. Alumni Gazette. University of Western Ontario. Winter. 2014. p.42.

Globe & Mail. Toronto, ON. RCMP priorities. November 18, 2011. p. A14.

Last photo of Marianne Ryan: Alberta Venture. July 1, 2014. by Alberta Venture Staff.


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