Indigenous policing recognized in Alberta, but need a steady budget to make a real difference

‘We need to be moved from program to essential service.’

On the Blood Tribe in Alberta, the community’s police service has its own dispatcher, communications centre, cell block and 37 officers.

For decades officers have been patrolling the community – but according to Farica Prince, Inspector of the administrative support division for the Blood Tribe, it hasn’t been easy.

“For the past 30 years we’ve been receiving the same training as our policing partners, we follow the same standards, we’re subject to the same rules, the same hiring practices and yet we’re significantly underfunded compared to our policing partners,” said Prince.

There are three Indigenous police services in Alberta; Lakeshore Regional Police Service, Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service and Blood Tribe Police Service.

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In October, the provincial government announced it will recognize those forces in the provincial police act.

The gives each force more power to make decisions including hiring and appointing their own officers, issue tickets and enforce community bylaws.

Prince says while this is something they’ve been looking for years, there’s still one thing missing.

“I mean it’s great to get this recognition, it’s great that we’re going to be able to govern ourselves, but what we’re missing here is the funding that goes along with it,” says Prince.

Even with this announcement, Indigenous policing in Alberta is still seen as a program.

Its gets money from both the province and federal governments.

Blood Tribe

Last year’s budget was roughly $6 million, but that money is only guaranteed every one to five years at a time.

“We need to be moved from program to essential service,” says Prince.

Blood Tribe Police Chief Kyle Melting Tallow says money would get from essential service designation would bring a sense of security to the community.

“They want to feel safe; they want their crime to be solved to the best of its ability and they their situations addressed at a timely manner,” said Tallow.” Unfortunately, that’s a challenge.”

Blair Boehmer, press secretary for the minister of justice, says funding is possible in the future through grants.

“There are other police grants that the province delivers, and we’re certainly opened to keeping conversations opened with First Nations police services to see if and when those grants can be applicable,” he says.

With over 1,400 square kilometres to cover, to its community, the Blood Tribe is an essential service.

Prince says gaining that recognition is a step in the right direction but hopes that in the future, changes to how Indigenous police services are funded are made.

“Indigenous People deserve quality public safety and when they’re underfunding Indigenous Police Services, they’re basically saying that public safety in an Indigenous community with their own police service, isn’t as important,” says Prince.

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