Early life and career
Robert Henry Simmonds was born on April 6, 1926 in Keatley near Hafford, Saskatchewan. Simmonds grew up on a farm and was educated in a one-room schoolhouse. He joined the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, served overseas during the last year of the Second World War.
Simmonds joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on April 23, 1947 where he trained at “Depot” Division in Regina. The following year, while touring with the RCMP Musical Ride, he performed highway patrols in Edmonton. He was subsequently posted to “K” Division, serving Edmonton, Innisfail, Three Hills, Wetaskiwin, Hanna and Calgary.
In 1953, Simmonds was part of the Canadian Contingent during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in England. In 1957, he moved to Calgary Subdivision as a Criminal Investigator. In 1966 he moved to Burnaby, British Columbia as Sub-Inspector, but transferred to Victoria in 1971 to work in the staffing and personnel department. Three years later, he was promoted to Superintendent and charged with commanding the Victoria Subdivision. In 1976, Simmonds was promoted from Chief Superintendent to Deputy Commissioner of Administration in Ottawa. On September 1, 1977 he was appointed Commissioner of the RCMP.
Simmonds was supportive of the organization of a British Columbia Police commission to mediate between police and the public. He felt that the RCMP should conduct themselves in an ethical manner and be accountable to the Government for their actions. In 1984, the RCMP Security Service was replaced by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Throughout his term in office, Simmonds guided the Force through a time of heavy media scrutiny because of a series of sensational criminal investigations the Government was involved in at the time. He employed great discretion in speaking to the public and the media in order to avoid compromising the cases. Heavily active during his term as Commissioner, Simmonds was named Vice President of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), as well as the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association.
Simmonds was awarded the RCMP Long Service Medal in 1967, accompanied by the bronze Clasp in 1972. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and was knighted Commander of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (Order of St. John) in 1978. He became an Honorary patron of the Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE), whose primary goal was the prevention and reduction of drug use among youth. In 1987 he was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada.
Post RCMP Career
After retiring in 1987, he negotiated peace between warring tribes in South Africa and became the senior law enforcement officer of the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control (UNFDAC) in Vienna.
- "Robert Simmonds". Retrieved June 25, 2006.
- RCMP Museum -- Friendly Notes Vol.14, No.3, Summer 2005
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