In 1991, Robin Richards was a co-op student with 54 Division, working closely with the CRU and with Constable David Newton.
25 years later, Richards, now a Court Officer and Supervisor, is taking over the reigns as Regimental Sergeant Major of the Chief’s Ceremonial Unit from Newton – who mentored him back then.
The Chief’s Ceremonial Unit started in 1991. Since then, members of the Toronto Police Service, civilians, uniformed members and retired members have been across Canada, participating in over 200 events a year, from funerals to ceremonies to official functions.
For Richards, his interest in drills and the military led him to become a member. But if it wasn’t for David Newton he wouldn’t have known the unit even existed. “I was introduced to the Chief`s Ceremonial Unit by none other than outgoing RSM David Newton,” said Richards.
Richards remembers well the training he had to go through to become a member. New recruits would spend hours in the basement of the Moss Park Armoury and, if you had no previous military training, it was tough to learn. “If we didn’t execute drill movements correctly, we certainly heard about it,” said Richards, chuckling. A few months later, Richards’ place was confirmed in the Unit and he sent for his uniform. Since then, he has travelled across Canada and the United States.
On his promotion to RSM, Richards says, “It is a very humbling experience and the highest honour.” His new role will require him to execute the wishes and directions of the Officer Commanding, from dress, to departure to drills.
While Richards becomes the new RSM, Newton has been promoted to Second in Charge and will be focusing on more administrative work for the Unit. He is also an original member. “I have been a reservist for 35 years,” said the Constable so, when the call came for members to join the CCU, Newton jumped at the chance. “I had experience with weapons and drills,” he said, “and I liked the parade square aspect of it.” Thus, his transition into the Unit was a natural one, he explained.
The job can be physically demanding, which is why CCU members spend quite a few hours a month training for the volunteer position. “You can be out in all sorts of weather, too,” according to Newton and one needs the discipline and training to execute the drills properly in tiring conditions.