Police Chief Clive Wieghill on June 19, 2017. Video stillshot from @SaskatoonPolice, Facebook.
A report released on Monday that alleges police mistreatment of 64 Saskatchewan Indigenous women, is getting a quick response from each force named in the 32-page document.
The Human Rights Watch report includes women’s recollections of being groped by male police officers, being roughed up by police, and a lack of urgency in responding to domestic calls involving Indigenous women. The alleged incidences involve the municipal police in Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert and the RCMP.
Saskatoon Police and the RCMP have responded by saying they take all allegations of this nature seriously and urged anyone with specific cases to contact them, with RCMP also directing people to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission and Saskatoon Police mentioning the FSIN Special Investigations Unit or the province’s Public Complaints Commission as outlets for complaints.
During a media availability Monday afternoon, Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill said his service has learned from its checkered history with Indigenous people and is improving cross-cultural understanding, but “a document like this comes out and gives our service and policing in Canada absolutely no credit for a lot of the work that’s being done. I think it’s very, very unfair.”
Meanwhile, Regina police released their entire response given to the Human Rights Watch when the group sent police a lengthy questionnaire during their fact-finding mission in 2016. That questionnaire was not included in the final report.
Deputy Police Chief Dean Rae says the report has left him “frustrated.
“We understand that there is some trust issues in the community but we are working towards working through those issues and helping people understand that.”
In a news release, Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper said his city has a strong representation of Indigenous women in leadership, and that the police service is closely connected to those groups.
“Many members of our service are indigenous, so this issue is near to the organization,” he said in the release.
He said he is considering forming an advisory committee of local Indigenous women who can review the report and provide local feedback and recommendations to Prince Albert police.
The RCMP shared a nine-point list of its actions to address issues mentioned in the report, including expanding Indigenous training for officers.