Parties from the Siksika First Nation and the Government of Alberta signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a new local police service on July 18.
Siksika Nation once had its own police service that ran from 1992-2002, but the tripartite agreement that established the organization wasn’t renewed and the force disbanded. The RCMP detachment in Gleichen has been policing in Siksika since 2002.
Tyler Shandro, minister of justice and solicitor general, says the signing comes with an understanding towards establishing a police force that has been needed for many years to help improve public safety in the Siksika First Nation community.
The idea of the new police service has been discussed over the past several years, along with hiring a firm to conduct a feasibility study. The provincial government contributed $30,000 dollars toward the study, which was a third of the cost.
Since the study was conducted a few years ago, Siksika Nation has done additional research on establishing the self-administered police service. However, the nation can’t move forward under the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program, due to the federal government freezing the program while conducting a review.
Shandro says that this is a community needing action now to combat the community’s crime rate which is higher than the provincial average.
Chief Ouray Crowfoot of the Siksika First Nation says that there is nothing equitable about not having a police force in a community with 8,000 residents when a nearby hamlet of less than 200 has a police force of 24 officers.
Recent studies have shown that 85 percent of the calls to the RCMP in Gleichen are Siksika-related, Crowfoot says, adding that without a police force that is in the nation, that knows the community and the roads well, response times can be impacted when situations are sometimes critical.
The chief says that there is a desire to build a mutually-beneficial relationship that helps keep the community safe in Siksika.
Do you have a story idea? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to the audio below: