This Is The One Place You Do Not Want To Spend The Night In The Alberta Oil Sands

This is part of our series on the Alberta oil sands.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are charged with enforcing law throughout the vast expanse of the northern provinces on all levels: federal, provincial, national, and local.

They’re like the FBI, the state police, the county sheriff, and the local beat cop all rolled up into one, and I spent last night riding around the heart of the Alberta oil sands with one of RCMP’s finest.

A/Cpl.Tyler Epp was tapped with providing his first press ride-along and gave me the full rundown on what Mounties face while policing the sometimes rowdy band of oil workers that fall upon the city during their off time.

I received several emails asking me to report on the “Wild West” atmosphere of Fort McMurray where oil sands workers, many who leave their families behind, descend during their precious time off.

Oil employees are required to live in company provided housing where they’re bussed in, held to curfew, and prohibited from drinking. It’s a routine they endure because the money warrants it, but when they rotate off for several days at a time they often head into town and occasionally cause a little bit of trouble.

Of course, last night turned out to be uncommonly quiet and we only responded to a couple of calls, but just in case things went south I was given the secret to unlocking the shotgun and told to get us the hell out of trouble if Cpl. Epp could not.

I learned a lot and took many photos that I’ll post when I get back, but in the meantime I’ll put a few below.

Thanks to the Fort McMurray RCMP for graciously allowing me to intrude last night, and SSG Keith Durance specifically for making it happen. 

Fort McMurrayThe downtown lock up — if you get arrested and can’t make bail this is where you’ll sit until a bus comes up from Edmonton five hours away to haul you to jail

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

Fort McMurrayThere is a good news/bad news element to getting charged with public drunkenness in Fort Mac — the good news is you’re only held overnight till you sober up — the bad news is you sleep here with no mattress, on the floor with anyone else unfortunate enough to join you

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

Fort McMurrayA/Cpl. Epp has been stationed in Fort McMurray for over five years — considered a paramilitary organisation, the Mounties get reassigned to other cities as a normal part of their service — this is his last year here and then his wife will leave her job and follow him to his new duty station

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

Click here for more of the oil sands series >

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