As Saskatchewan's provincial police service, it is important the people we serve have as much information as possible about what occurred in our province last week. As it has been a week since I last spoke with the media, I would like to provide an update and address some questions we have been receiving from our media partners.
The Saskatchewan RCMP has worked diligently to provide timely information to the public surrounding the tragic events that took place in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Saskatchewan. I know some have taken issue with the fact that at our press conference - hours after the arrest and death of Myles Sanderson - that I did not have answers as to how he died.
Let me first say I am extremely proud of the police officers, civilian employees and public service employees who worked tireless hours to locate and apprehend Myles Sanderson. The police officers who apprehended him are highly trained experts in their field but they are not medical experts or pathologists.
When I gave my statement and answered questions, we did not know – and still do not know – the cause of death for Myles Sanderson and to speculate would be irresponsible and undermine the independent investigation being conducted by Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team. I have seen it written that "somewhere in the process, police failed to uphold" our duty of care. This statement is extremely premature given we do not yet have information on what led to his death. I ask you all to remember this is not a TV drama where we will have all of the answers by the end of the episode. Complex investigations of this nature take time and we look forward to providing further details once they have been confirmed.
It is important we wait for the independent investigation to be completed by the Saskatoon Police Service and the Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team before making such statements. Independent oversight of police actions is critical to public trust and confidence in the actions of police officers. This is exactly the reason why I was limited in what I could say when I spoke with the media on September 7. I am confident both investigating bodies understand the public interest in this case and will be working to release information as soon as they are able.
I understand and appreciate there are still unanswered questions and we are fully committed to providing a detailed timeline once investigators have it completed. Our Major Crimes Unit continues to work to put the pieces together so we can provide further information to the public. Our first priority remains sharing the information with the victim's families prior to the general public.
I had the opportunity to visit James Smith Cree Nation twice last week. The impact on the community cannot be understated and I was amazed at the resiliency, compassion and generosity I observed from residents. I would like to thank the members of the public and those in the communities of James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon. Your strength is admirable and the information you have provided us has been extremely helpful.
I would also like to thank our partners in the media – especially those who were here throughout the last week. You have worked hard to bring important information to the public while respecting the privacy of the affected communities.
Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore