Problems continue to plague First Nations policing after more than 2 decades: report

APTN National News
Nearly 23 years since the federal First Nations policing policy was implemented the program is “not working as intended” according to a new report released Tuesday by the auditor general of Canada.

“The program is not working as intended, and many issues persist,” Ferguson said in his report.

Ferguson found Public Safety has measures in place to track how many policing agreements are signed and number of police officers funded.

Reports are then made to Parliament.

But Public Safety doesn’t account for the policing program’s principles or objectives, Ferguson said.

Ferguson said Public Safety has no measures in place to determine if First Nations people are getting policing suited to their needs or up to provincial standards.

“Furthermore, the Department does not report on costs and risks arising from inadequate policing infrastructure,” he said.

That’s not new information for Public Safety.

According to the report the feds have known about the deplorable issues for years.

In 2003, a federal report found of 140 policing facilities inspected, 33 were in “poor or very poor condition” and the problem was only growing.

A 2009 report repeated much of the same.

However, Public Safety told Ferguson, who also confirmed for himself, some First Nations continue raise concerns on the state of policing facilities.

Ferguson found of the records detailing the state of facilities Public Safety officials were the ones conducting buildings assessments, not qualified building inspectors.

“Without inspection reports by qualified professionals on all facilities, the Department does not have assurance that these facilities meet the applicable standards,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said the government needs to develop measures to fill these gaps.

Public Safety agreed to “consider and develop mutually acceptable mechanisms that will provide reasonable assurances” policing facilities meet building codes.

Auditors visited six Ontario fly-in communities and found the buildings where police officers worked “were crowded, contained mould, and were in a state of disrepair.”

But day-to-day policing is also not meeting standards in some cases, such as proper radios.

Ontario policing regulations states policing services must have 24-hour communication centres to respond to emergency calls and have constant contact with officers on the road.

“According to an official of a self-administered policing service in Ontario that serves 24 fly-in First Nations communities, only one of these communities has a detachment with a radio system that meets this standard,” Ferguson said.

More issues came up with how the policing agreements are reached.

In one instance, 30 First Nations with previous agreements had less than a month’s notice to negotiate new agreements that would have expired March 2013. Public Safety then provided new funding for five years.

In one of those agreements, a clause was in place for the community and government to begin negotiations in “good faith” a year in advance but it never happened.

Ferguson examined nine agreements to determined if they were done so with “meaningful input” by the communities. Seven of them had no documented evidence of input between 2007 and 2013.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said First Nation policing was set up to fail.

“The inevitable conclusion of the auditor general’s report is that First Nation communities in Ontario do not receive the same level of policing that rest of the province does,” Fiddler said in a statement. “This report shows that First Nations have been set up for failure and the federal approach to First Nation policing is seriously flawed.”

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