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Policing in Treaty #3

Speaking specifically about Treaty 3 area, in the past six or more years I’ve had the opportunity to witness the performance of the Treaty Three Police Service, and have a few insider views of what goes on, where, how and why.

Obviously I can understand why T3PS would be an equal opportunities employer – in theory, any non-aboriginal officer should be able to perform the duties of an aboriginal police force as well as any aboriginal officer.

But in practice that just isn’t happening. I know a few individuals who have the opportunity of dealing with T3PS and aboriginal people on a daily basis. A few years ago, in the back lane going from Movie Gallery all the way to Real Canadian Wholesale, I remember seeing an intoxicated aboriginal person lying underneath a tree. Through faltering conversation I learned that that individual had just been picked up by caucasian Treaty 3 officers who had beaten the daylights out of him, which was evident by the bleeding lip and bruises on his face.

Being naive I didn’t believe him, thinking it was just another drunken mistake. But then I started hearing more of the same kind of stories from someone who works for the Street Patrol.

The problem is the Chief of Police Brian Rupert – an incompetent manager trying to act like he’s aboriginal. In my book, a Status Card doesn’t necessarily make someone Aboriginal.  There’s plenty of caucasian people in Canada who have full Indian status, which proves my point.  A Status Card just illustrates the category the Federal government puts a person in. The reason why this matters is an Aboriginal person who had lived amongst the people would have a far better understanding of the lives and problems people in Treaty #3 area face.

His hiring policies claim to have 75% of officers with Aboriginal ancestry – obviously he’s including Metis people in that (who will never be Aboriginal regardless of what the Federal Government says). I’m not sure where he gets the 75% from but after speaking to people who were on the police board, and others who deal daily with T3PS, I’d noticed from the officers seen cruising around, 75% was correct – but aimed at the wrong portion. 75% were non-aboriginal. Once in a blue moon would I see an Aboriginal officer in the T3PS uniform. I’d also learned that native folk were getting turned away by the dozens, whilst white officers kept getting hired. I’m friends with some officers from Treaty 3 Police, and the ones I know are decent coppers.

I’ve noticed an overall lack of competency compared with the OPP or KPS. The problem is Rupert’s hiring of rookie caucasian officers fresh out of police college mostly with big attitude problems and chips on their shoulders. These younger caucasian officers are the jock types in highschool that either bullied people are didn’t socialise with native folk. Put them in a uniform, with a gun and authority and it goes to their heads.

Only twice in nearly seven years have I seen T3PS pull over a vehicle for any reason. One time when a member of my son’s family was cruising at 140kmh a T3PS copper pulled them over, told them to slow down, turned around and drove off. Any other police force and that person would have been given a hefty fine.

Numerous times myself I’ve been speeding well over the limit, and saw T3PS coming the opposite way. I never bother to slow down because I know they’ll never pull me over. T3PS officers are sworn for all of Ontario just as any other police officer in Ontario. Their mandate is Treaty 3, but they have a duty to pull over people speeding or committing other offences – but they don’t.

Police officers are supposed to command respect and exude authority – T3PS do nothing to gain that respect. So is it any wonder any time there’s a MAJOR crime within their jurisdiction they call in the OPP, whilst T3PS officers are left to direct traffic?  I don’t blame any of this one the officers on patrol – as I’ve said numerous times, the ones I know are splendid – I pick my children up from the same daycare as some of T3PS officers – and they’re good people trying to do a job without all the necessary components, but are held back by poor management.

Luckily Rupert is about to retire… so hopefully they’ll get someone more competent to replace him. He would have been better simply sticking to law enforcement with the Ontario Provincial Police.

The next in line is Louis Napish, who I am told (from a very reliable source) is a good guy, and good at what he does.  The fact that he speaks Anishinaabe is a big plus for a variety of reasons, one of them being it demonstrates that he is an integral part of Anishinaabe culture, instead of just paying lip service by having a Status Card. One day T3PS might actually start to give preference to First Nations people. Time will tell.

17 Jul, 2008 | Author: | Category: Editorial | Share: Digg | Facebook

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