Alberta government announces funding to expand Indigenous police forces

The Alberta government is launching a new grant for Indigenous and municipal communities that want to develop their own community police force.

At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the province will provide up to $30,000 to Indigenous and municipal communities who want to explore alternative policing models. The Community Policing Grant is intended to help these communities prepare a business case to present to the federal government outlining local needs for a stand-alone police service.

Read more: Largest Indigenous police service in Canada has never shot and killed anyone

“We have always felt that the more connected law enforcement can be to its community, the better. We’ve been getting messages from many Indigenous communities in Alberta that would like to establish police services in their own communities,” Shandro said.

Story continues below advertisement

“These professional evaluations can be costly, and our government feels that these costs should not be a barrier for communities seeking to provide better law enforcement services.”

The government will also provide supplemental funding to expand three First Nations police services in the province. An additional $150,000 will help fund 15 new police officers for the Blood Tribe, Tsuut’ina Nation and Lakeshore Regional police services. Each service will be able to hire five new police officers.

William Wadsworth, police commission chair at the Blood Tribe, said the financial support is much needed.

“This support is much needed as our communities are growing in numbers, but at the same time we are experiencing a growing amount of other issues such as drug use and other difficult situations,” Wadsworth said at Thursday’s news conference.

Read more: How Indigenous policing works in Kahnawake

Lakeshore Regional Police Service Chief Dale Cox said the funding recognizes self-administered First Nations policing as legitimate police services. According to Cox, a lot of funding agreements between First Nations police services and governments are systemically discriminatory.

“The announcement today starts looking at the equity and fairness that needs to be in the funding agreements that are given to self-administered First Nations policing. We can no longer be able to properly protect our communities and properly protect our employees without announcements such as this,” Cox said.

Story continues below advertisement

But Tsuut’ina Nation Chief Roy Whitney-Onespot acknowledged more needs to be done to repair the relationship between Indigenous peoples and law enforcement.

“Policing historically has somewhat been a challenge for us and for other First Nations. I don’t need to tell you that the relationship between First Nations indigenous peoples and policing authorities has had a checkered past,” Whitney-Onespot said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source