Saskatchewan RCMP statement on Human Rights Watch report

June 19, 2017
Regina, Saskatchewan

Statement

Last week I received a copy of the Human Rights Watch Report which followed the visit of Human Rights Watch to Saskatchewan in the fall of 2016. This report outlines allegations of misconduct and the abuse of indigenous women by police in Saskatchewan and the need for systemic change. These allegations are very concerning and as with any allegations of police misconduct demand a full and thorough investigation. In regard to the need for systemic change, we will be examining the recommendations in great detail.

This report follows, among others, the 2013 review by Human Rights Watch in northern British Columbia, the subsequent CRCC investigation, and the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Initial examination of the recommendations in the report released today suggest they are not unlike recommendations that have flowed from previous reports. While we will need to examine these recommendations thoroughly, I recognize that much work and progress has been made in this regard.

This report indicates that the relationship between the police and indigenous communities is "deeply fractured". In my time here as the Commanding Officer, I can tell you this is not the case. In Saskatchewan there are many examples of positive relationships between the RCMP and Indigenous communities. Positive relationships are the norm and continuing to build and grow with our Aboriginal communities is a priority for the RCMP in Saskatchewan. Our focus is to ensure that we create understanding and trust with all people and communities we serve.

To this end, in addition to the cultural sensitivity training, human rights, and gender diversity training that our cadets receive in Depot, here in Saskatchewan we have developed an Aboriginal and First Nations Perceptions training program specific to the local communities we serve. In an effort to ensure that our workforce reflects our communities, the recruitment of indigenous men and women into the RCMP is a priority. We have a mentorship program and other opportunities available to assist indigenous people interested in a career with the RCMP. In Saskatchewan, the RCMP are engaged with Indigenous communities at all levels, from our local detachments, to our District management to our senior managers. I have an Aboriginal Advisory Committee consisting of Elders from across our First Nations Communities. Through regular meetings, these advisors provide myself and senior management with guidance, feedback and support as we collaboratively go about identifying and developing ways to enhance trust and community safety. For example, this group will be providing input on the recent revisions to F Division's family violence policies. I will also be providing them with a copy of this report and asking for their input and feedback on the recommendations.

This report highlights concerns with the searching of detained females. As police officers, we have the authority to place people under arrest, search them, and detain them. These are high risk activities. This is not something we take lightly and we know and understand the impact this can have on people. It is important we do everything we can to preserve a person's privacy and dignity while in our custody, at the same time ensuring the safety of the subject, other detainees, and police officers involved. To further strengthen this expectation, we made changes last August to our Personal Search Policy in order to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to preserve a person's privacy and dignity.

I'm a firm believer that community safety begins with strong relationships. Across the Province we continue to work to build trust and strengthen our relationships with indigenous people. I truly value these relationships as do to the dedicated men and women of the RCMP who live and work in these communities.

Thank you.
A/Commr. Zablocki

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