Top cop masters grad school
Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass has accomplished a lot during his almost four decades in the RCMP. He’s worked undercover and underwater, investigated serious crimes, and been accepted as an expert witness. He’s been involved in investigations of homicide, organized crime, drugs, and major crimes. He’s worked his way up the ranks and, as of late 2006, became Deputy Commissioner of the Pacific Region and Commanding Officer of E Division for the RCMP in British Columbia.
In layman’s terms, he’s one of B.C.’s top cops. But something he’s accomplished recently gives him another reason to be proud, a little extra something for the resumé. He was part of the first group of students to enroll in UFV’s Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program, and finished the degree in the fall of 2007.
Bass had taken criminology courses back east years ago and earned a certificate. When he heard about UFV’s MA program, and realized that the research he did for it could dovetail nicely with day-to-day projects he was involved in focusing on the crime reduction model, he signed on as a student.
The crime reduction model is a relatively new concept to Canada, one that focuses on known prolific offenders, based on the theory that getting them off the streets will reduce crime significantly, and that ensuring that all social agencies are directly involved in helping or treating them will increase their chances at rehabilitation.
“The idea is to take a ‘wraparound’ approach to prolific offenders and ensure that the health care, education, social services, housing, and children and families agencies are all involved,” said Bass. “We had started some pilot projects, and had traveled to the UK to look at how it worked there. Doing the MA program gave me the opportunity to do some action-oriented research, with my studies directly related to what I was doing professionally.”
The MA Crim program at UFV follows a cohort model, with the same group of 18 or so students meeting for three-day sessions on a regular basis, then working on their research on their own. It is designed to accommodate working professionals. “Everyone brought different experiences to the cohort table and we all learned from each other,” said the 56-year-old Bass, who lives in Langley. “There were lots of mid-career individuals, two or three with as much experience as myself, and some students fresh out of their bachelor’s program. The professors have been great and the learning environment offered at UFV is exceptional.
“It was nice to be part of the first group in this program, and to really focus on education for a change. I’d never had the opportunity to do it earlier — I’d just taken a lot of part-time studies over the years. Now that it’s done, it’s great to have my kitchen table back and not covered with books and papers anymore.”
Martin Silverstein, head of the UFV School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, was impressed by the diligence shown by his highest ranking student. “I was very impressed by Gary’s quest and desire for education. He definitely wasn’t just going through the motions. He came to every session and both offered a lot to and learned a lot from his cohort group. You could tell how important this was to him. I think it was a wonderful experience for him.”
UFV professor Darryl Plecas, the RCMP Research Chair in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, also enjoyed having Bass as a student. “Not unexpectedly, throughout the MA program Gary proved to be as much a great teacher as he was a great student,” said Plecas. “He is a walking gold mine of information and perspectives on criminal justice issues, and that of course made him a non-stop asset in seminars. Perhaps most significantly, Gary is the kind of person who seizes opportunities to be helpful to others. Needless to say, his classmates loved having him in the program”
Deputy Commissioner Bass is the recipient of a Commanding Officer’s Commendation, two Commissioner’s Commendations, the RCMP Good Conduct & Long Service Medal with Gold Clasp, and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and has been invested as an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.
The RCMP has several strong connections to UFV’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. The force sponsors a research chair at UFV, and the university offers a Bachelor of General Studies degree in Police Studies that RCMP members can pursue in partnership with the Pacific Regional Training Centre in Chilliwack. UFV faculty and students have also conducted numerous studies commissioned by the RCMP.