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Four decades of faithful service


December 23, 2014
By Danette Dooley

The longest serving Mountie in Newfoundland and Labrador has hung up his spurs. S/Sgt. Major Dave Tipple retired June 25, 2014.

During his 44-plus year career with the RCMP, Tipple policed in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba and throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. A native of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, he joined the RCMP on March 23, 1970 at age 21, one of the oldest members in his troop.

“I had full intentions of doing a full career, 25 or 35 years, but I never dreamt that I would do 44,” Tipple said during a telephone interview.

Tipple has seen many changes in policing over the past four decades. When he joined, the RCMP was an all-male organization, accepting only single men into its ranks.

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Those who wished to marry had to have three years of service and even then had to ask permission from their commanding officer.

“I was in depot with about 600 single guys and when the time came, I did ask for permission from the commanding officer in PEI to get married. You had to let them know the amount of money you owed, your assets and other information. That’s the way it was back then.”

{Colourful career}

After recruit training at the RCMP’s Depot in Regina he was posted to Flin Flon, Manitoba. Tipple’s colourful career has taken him from general duty policing to highway patrol, customs and excise, drug enforcement, national intelligence, human resources and federal enforcement.

He served at the G8 Summit in Toronto, the Francophone Summit in Moncton, the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler and the G20 Summit in Toronto.

Tipple served on the protective teams for several Prime Ministers of Canada, from Pierre Trudeau to Stephen Harper, and several governor generals. He was assigned to protective duties for Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles, Lady Diana, Prince Edward, Princess Anne, His Holiness Pope John Paul ll and numerous heads of state and ambassadors, including US presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate over the years to be selected for some of those jobs,” Tipple said.

Street patrol is often touted as the heartbeat of a police force. Tipple’s words prove that’s true in his case.

Although he’s protected some of the world’s most famous people, it’s his time helping common people that he said he’ll remember as the highlight of his career.

“To stay for 44 years you had to like it all but I loved general policing. You’re dealing strictly with the public.”

Tipple served as a pall bearer for the last father of confederation, The Honourable Joseph R. Smallwood, and was selected for the later premier’s honour guard. Smallwood died in December 1991.

“There were four RNC (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) officers and four RCMP. While (Smallwood) was lying in state at the Confederation Building we kept a vigil at the casket. For the funeral ceremony itself, we carried the casket. That was pretty unique for me. I was younger then. I was pretty proud to be selected for that.”

In 2008 he was a member of the RCMP Ceremonial Troop that performed in Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne. Also during this tour he had the opportunity of visiting Vimy Ridge Memorial and Beaumont Hamel in France.

Tipple was promoted to the coveted position of RCMP Staff Sergeant Major for Newfoundland and Labrador in 2009.

A press release issued by the RCMP about Tipple’s retirement notes that the S/Sgt. Major position is the highest grade of rank for non-commissioned and is the “epitome of success in policing.”

A role model for other officers, the S/Sgt. Major carries out policies and standard of the performance, training, appearance and conduct of all police officers.

Tipple has received numerous awards over the years including Member of Merit of the Police Forces, Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, RCMP 40 year Long Service Medal gold and silver clasp with 4 Stars and National French Defense Bronze Medal.

Tipple is married to Valgene Tipple (nee Sheppard) from Bell Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.

While transfers are expected of RCMP members, Tipple said frequent moves can be hard on children.

“It’s tough on kids, too, no matter if you’re in Toronto (Ontario) or you’re in Burgeo (Newfoundland and Labrador). When children are growing up, where they are living is their world. When you take them out of their communities, it’s tough on them.”

The Tipples have two boys, Mark and Sean, and three grandsons (Parker, Spencer and Samuel). Sean is a serving member of the RCMP stationed at Trinity Conception, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tipple would encourage young men and women to choose a career in policing.

“I’ve done everything I wanted to do with the RCMP and I felt it was time to go. I had a fantastic farewell and I left with no regrets at all. Life was good. It was a great career.”

dooley@blueine.ca