Ste Anne’s chief of police will have an important role to play in an upcoming review of the provincial legislation governing policing in Manitoba.
Marc Robichaud was elected president of the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) in May.
That same month, the Manitoba government began asking for proposals from independent third-party organizations willing to review the province’s Police Services Act (PSA).
By law, the decade-old act must be reviewed every five years.
On Oct. 21, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CSKA), a Saskatchewan-based non-profit, was chosen to conduct the review and lead stakeholder consultations.
A report is expected by mid-2020, the province said.
The review will include a "gap analysis" to measure how well the PSA meets current and future needs; consider the "changing context" for policing and community safety; and compare Manitoba’s policing legislation to that of other provinces.
Cal Corley, CSKA’s chief executive officer, said in a release policing in Canada is in "a period of transition" as forces grapple with escalating costs, shifting service demands, and growing public pressure for accountability.
Robichaud, now in his 11th year with the Ste Anne Police Department, said Monday in an interview he looks forward to providing input on behalf of the police chiefs’ association, whose roughly 80 members represent 13 police agencies and 10 enforcement agencies operating in Manitoba.
"I think it allows us a voice to bring forward any major concerns that we have as a membership," he said.
The association was already part of preliminary consultations on the review’s scope. Going forward, Robichaud said he hopes to provide feedback on recommendations arising from the review, in part to ensure they make sense in rural contexts.
He expects resources, especially in rural areas, will a key topic in the review.
"Manitoba’s about the size of England, so when you look at the reality of policing in Manitoba, there’s all kinds of different dynamics at play," he said.
Regulations and standards for things like equipment, training, and use of force reporting will also need to be assessed.
"I think that’s probably the biggest thing you’ll see from that review," he said. "Policing is becoming a more technical job. The requirements for policing are always increasing."
Robichaud’s election as association president was notable, given that the position usually goes to a senior member of a larger force, like the Winnipeg or Brandon Police Service or the RCMP.
"To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a (president) that’s come from a small department," Robichaud said.
While the Progressive Conservative government has ushered in sweeping changes in health care, and is poised to do the same in education, Robichaud said the PSA review is likely to be more a tune-up, not an overhaul.
"Their review is really from a place of, how do we improve policing in the province, and what can we do to better assist police," he explained.
Funding models fall outside the review’s scope, but Robichaud said he wasn’t worried about cuts anyway.
"We haven’t seen that attitude from government at all," he said.
Robichaud said the province has shown its support for small municipal forces through dedicated grants and integrated policing programs that allow a police force like Ste Anne’s, with six full-time members, to access RCMP resources when necessary.
UPDATE - Nov. 4, 11:45 a.m. - corrects number of police and enforcement agencies represented by MACP.