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Barry PitcherProfile: Barry Pitcher

Mountie trains Afghan police—and saves lives

Each morning, RCMP Corporal Barry Pitcher rises at the crack of dawn and heads to his bomb-proof office. On patrol, he wears a helmet and flak jacket, carries a military weapon and rides in a light-armoured vehicle.

On assignment as a police training officer with the Afghan National Police (ANP), Barry is stationed at Camp Nathan Smith, a military base in war-ravaged Afghanistan’s Kandahar district.

Barry explains his assignment: “We assist in building the capacity of the Afghan National Police and enable them to stand on their own as a credible police force. We also help to monitor and train Afghan police officers in operational police techniques.”

The training includes everything from handcuffing suspects and searching buildings, vehicles and people to establishing and maintaining vehicle checkpoints, building police substations and performing advanced first aid.

No shoes and four bullets

“Many ANP officers I met barely had a shirt on their back, no shoes and an AK-47 with four bullets in it. They were, however, the most attentive students I ever had. When you know that what you have passed on to other police officers will eventually save lives, that is a great feeling.”

Barry is well trained to handle a posting in a battle zone. After high school, he attended military college and later became an infantry officer before joining the RCMP.

“Having been both a soldier and police officer, I can tell you that there is no greater calling than serving your fellow Canadians,” Barry says.

Meaningful moment

"Having been both
a soldier and a
police officer, I
can tell you that
there is no greater
calling than
serving your

Barry says that his work in Afghanistan has provided one of the most meaningful moments in his career.

“My most memorable moment was seeing an ANP officer in the desert who had been shot a number of times, yet was still on duty. He could not afford to pay a doctor to treat him so he came back to his post. This motivated me to organize a trauma first-aid program with the military.

“At the very first course we ran at the camp, the students were so excited to have received the training,” Barry recalls. “When they got their certificates, first-aid pouches and Red Cross badges, it was as if they had each received a million dollars. Many of them embraced us before heading back to their police stations.”

“Knowing you made a difference like that in someone’s life is what makes being a public servant worthwhile.”
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