Grand Council Treaty 3 now has time to go over recommendations on the Thunder Bay Police Service. The Grand Council joined with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Rainy River First Nation in raising concerns about the police service and its board.
Yesterday, Senator Murray Sinclair called for an administrator to take over the police service board, until members receive sufficient training.
"Given the long standing and troubling circumstances in Thunder Bay and the board’s dismissive attitudes towards taking positive steps to address them, the investigation determined that bold measures are required. Police services boards need to be cognizant and capable of carrying out all of their statutory responsibilities. The board has demonstrably shown that it cannot," it said in the report issued yesterday.
As a result, the Indigenous community has lost its confidence in the ability and, in many cases, the commitment of the Thunder Bay Police Service to protect them. Interviews and past inquiries reflect a relationship between the Indigenous community and police characterized by suspicion and distrust. Several factors have contributed to this.
- A perception that police will minimize, dismiss, or fail to investigate complaints of violence against Indigenous people with diligence, particularly if intoxicants are involved;
- Poor communication with Indigenous victims of crime and their families by the Thunder Bay Police Service;
- A fear that formal complaints by Indigenous individuals directed to the Thunder Bay Police Service will result in repercussions against the complainant; and
- A general failure by Thunder Bay Police Service to address recurring categories of crime against Indigenous people in a comprehensive and systemic way.
Following their investigations, the report from the Ontario Civilian Police Commission determined:
- The board did not demonstrate meaningful engagement in its own strategic or operational planning, relying for the most part on input from the Chief of Police and staff. There are no board-developed, board-driven planning policies or formal instruments to support long-term strategic or annual operational planning in place.
- The board did not demonstrate meaningful engagement in the development of governance and oversight policies. There is a heavy reliance on standard templates developed by Mininstry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and a lack of board-level policies developed to address the obvious and critical needs relating to the policing to protect the Indigenous community. There is no schedule or procedure for initiating reviews of existing policies or for developing new policies in response to emerging needs.
- The board has not shown leadership in proactive, committed outreach to key Indigenous community organizations, other Indigenous communities or organizations in the region, or Indigenous policing agencies active in Northern Ontario.
- The board has made no apparent effort to make its policies, plans and activities visible and transparent to the public at large or to the First Nation community.
Another report issued earlier in the week found systemic racism within the police service.
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