Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

To better police reserves

  • Print

Crime rates on reserves are many times higher than that in urban centres across Canada and in Manitoba. The provincial and federal governments finance policing in these communities, with the intent to deliver a level of service equivalent to non-First Nation centres. That's a problem.

The calculus does not take into account the differing levels of violence. The First Nation community of Northlands Denesuline has had no on-site police presence for long periods of time. RCMP from the Thompson detachment fly in for a scheduled patrol or in emergencies. Yet, the crime rate far exceeds that of, say, St. Claude, served by nearby Treherne's RCMP detachment. All three communities have roughly the same population. Similar comparisons could be made between Tadoule Lake (also served by Thompson) and La Riviere, covered by RCMP out of nearby Manitou.

Various federal-provincial agreements fund police coverage by RCMP of rural and isolated communities. Southern centres are closer together, which makes coverage from police hubs easier. The reserves, particularly in isolated northern areas, have far less access to police service because of their remoteness -- RCMP often must fly in for emergencies.

There has been dispute over how to improve policing on reserves. Manitoba insists the federal government must hike its funding share and Ottawa has implied the province has dragged its feet on getting enough constables on the ground.

Policing on reserves in Canada is a patchwork: RCMP detachments give various service by scheduled patrols, in concert with special constables (First Nations recruits who are full RCMP members, but assigned to reserves) or band constables, who are federally trained but do not carry firearms. Ottawa has not offered band-constable training for two years in Manitoba.

Northlands lost its two band constables last June, and the dearth of police presence is a real problem in a community where violence is frequent, the chief says. Both Northlands and Tadoule Lake want a permanent police officer.

The province says Ottawa for many years has frozen its funding through its First Nations Policing Program, which cost-shares policing by special constables and First Nations police forces. It would be the program to fund the proposal by the northern chiefs group Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which wants First-Nations-operated, permanent police on reserves.

Ottawa's recent commitment of $612 million for the FNPP over five years was welcomed because of its multi-year, predictable funding. But the provinces have yet to hear how much each will get, and for what purpose. The annual funding is a minimal increase over this year's budget and so real expansion of service is unlikely.

It won't answer the call for aboriginal police departments in Manitoba, such as the Dakota Ojibwa Police Service, which covers five southern communities. Trained, certified, aboriginal officers in detachments that are responsive to and knowledgeable about the reserves are preferable, a point that has been made for years and in reviews of crime, enforcement and social conditions on reserves.

Manitoba and Ottawa have to open negotiations with chiefs and councils on how best to ensure that when crime happens, police response is not hours or days away.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2013 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: No Time Left for Stu

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Jets' three pre-season losses in a row are a sign of things to come?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google