May 20, 2015
To the Concerned Citizens who delivered a List of Community Concerns and the citizens of Regina:
On March 15, 2015, your group delivered a list of concerns to the Regina Police Service. Our repeated invitations to meet with you, the organizers of the March 15th rally, have gone unacknowledged. Since the concerns were raised in a very public manner, we cannot leave the public with an impression that the Regina Police Service is indifferent to your group’s concerns. We want to hear your suggestions and have meaningful dialogue to collaborate on solutions – but you will not meet with us. The result is this open letter to the Community Concern group and all citizens of Regina.
In examining each of the issues on the Community Concerns list, it occurred to us that perhaps members of the group and the general public may not be aware of our past and current efforts in the areas specified. To that end, we have compiled the attached document which lists and explains these initiatives. We know this is not the complete answer; we know there is always more we can do to connect with all members of our community in a meaningful and respectful way. We continue to strive to improve our communication with the public about what we do and why.
We acknowledge there are individuals in our community who are dissatisfied with police. We would not presume to argue with the individual experiences and feelings of another person. However, we also know these negative experiences make up a very small percentage of the total number of interactions we have with the public each year. That is not to say they are insignificant, but they are not indicative of the overall quality of policing delivered to the citizens of Regina by this Police Service. Although we know the Service has strong support in this community, we continue to commit to further improvement.
The Regina Police Service is accountable to those we serve. We are governed by the Regina Board of Police Commissioners and subject to its oversight as well as that of the Saskatchewan Police Commission and the Ministry of Justice, Corrections and Policing. When there is a public complaint about the conduct of our officers there is a robust process of accountability enacted through the Public Complaints Commission. In instances where we have made mistakes, we accept the decisions and guidance of the oversight bodies. We address identified gaps in training or mete out discipline as required.
As a Police Service, we have the duty and responsibility to help people live in safety. We recognize we cannot do this work alone. Our vision reflects this: Working Together to Keep Regina Safe. Our role is not comprised of a simple task, but rather a complex array of activities and actions, including both pro-active and reactive measures. It is work which puts our frontline officers and investigators in face-to-face contact with members of the public, hundreds of thousands of times in a year. These interactions may not always be ideal because of the complex situations to which police are asked to respond. All of us; whether victims, witnesses, suspects, police or bystanders; have roles to play in personal accountability as participants in the safety of our community.
We acknowledge effective policing often involves conflict, especially when our response necessitates the arrests of those who have broken the law or who are not willing to be held accountable for their actions. We do not apologize for acting within our authority to maintain public order and ensure our community’s safety and well-being. We have a duty to victims of crime and our society to diligently pursue investigations and, where appropriate, to lay criminal charges. We work in partnership with social agencies, justice, corrections, government and non-governmental organizations, academics and community members to keep Regina safe.
In closing, we urge you to read the attached document to learn more about the work being done by your Police Service. We invite you to learn more by engaging with us through our website and social media pages, or attending programs like Citizens’ Police Academy. We remain open to constructive dialogue and will continue to work toward building a better, safer community for all.
Chief Troy Hagen,
Regina Police Service.
On March 15th, 2015 a list of concerns was delivered to the Regina Police Service following a rally alleging police brutality and abuse of police powers. A request to address a number of issues was made by a few members of the public at that time. Please accept the following information addressing each one of the concerns (as presented by the Community Concern group) listed.
Concern #1 – Racial and youth profiling
The Regina Police Service does not engage in racial or youth profiling although the Service maintains (as mandated) detailed records of incidents of reported crime and investigations. Rather, the Regina Police Service works diligently to build upon existing relationships with diverse groups in our community and develop new relationships as our community diversifies. As an organization, we are committed to a workforce that represents the diversity in the community through our hiring practices and our recruitment efforts. In 1992, the Regina Police Service registered an Employment Equity Plan with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and publishes an annual report on its progress towards the goals set out in the plan. The Regina Police Service continues to strive to be reflective of the community we serve by participating in active recruiting of diverse groups in our community.
In addition, attendance at career fairs in and outside Regina focusing on attracting diverse recruits is ongoing. This includes a mentorship program for persons who are interested in a career in policing but need additional supports to prepare and be successful. Bi-Annual diversity training is provided to all personnel to enhance education and awareness about groups in our community. Regina Police Service members receive training on current issues and situations that may impact them when conducting their duties. This training has included an Aboriginal component with teachings on the meanings behind sweet grass, tobacco and Elders.
In the community, building upon relationships with diverse groups continue to be a focus. Each year, members of the Regina Police Service work in partnership with the organizers of Mosaic to support all cultures in our community. Every February, the Regina Police Service hosts a Round Dance with approximately 1,300 participants. The Service also works closely with an Elders Advisory Council, and the Community Cadet Program dedicated to working with youth through the Cultural and Community Diversity Unit. The Regina Police Service also works with the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Police Prep class, Treaty 4 Citizen’s Police Academy, the First Nations University of Canada Spring and Fall Pow Wow’s, Urban Treaty Days, Smudge Walk, Sisters in Spirit, and National Aboriginal Day events.
The Cultural and Community Diversity Unit also works closely with the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan, attending an Open House at the Mosque, and numerous meetings and workshops. Presentations for increasing education about, and for, newcomers through partnerships with the Multi-Cultural Council, the Regina Open Door Society, Public and Catholic School Boards, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic are delivered by the Cultural and Community Diversity Unit. Active participation in the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, including interaction with participants and other speakers, was a success this past year.
Our efforts to support diversity in our community include building relationships with the LGBTQ community. Members of the Cultural and Community Diversity Unit are engaged with various committees and participate in the Queen City Pride Week activities and parade. This past year, members attended the parade in police uniforms to show additional support and commitment to building understanding. Camp FyreFly was another commitment on behalf of the organization to assist in building relationships with youth from the LGBTQ community in a positive way. Work with EGALE Canada has also been positive, resulting in development of continued partnerships and collaborative projects.
The Community Cadet Corps is a program offered for youth by the Cultural and Community Diversity Unit. Youth learn self-discipline, self-respect, and other skills including drill, crafts, and sport. The Regina Police Service also supports healthy development of youth by participating in KidSport, by attending regular monthly meetings.
The Regina Police Service has been engaged in the 11 and Under Initiative for several years. This initiative is focused on supporting children 11 years and under by recognizing anti-social behaviours or exposure to risk factors. Youth are provided support by a number of stakeholders working in partnership with the Regina Police Service. One of the goals of the program is to ensure that young people are provided supports to improve their well-being and reduce their rates of victimization and criminal involvement.
Lastly, the School Resource Program has been a long standing commitment from the Regina Police Service to offer support, education, and mentorship to youth in both elementary and high schools in Regina. Members of this unit provide presentations about safety, the law, drugs, alcohol, bullying, and many other topics.
Concern #2 – Need for ongoing education to better treat peoples with different abilities, mental illness, and/or FASD
The Regina Police Service is acutely aware of the concerns and issues surrounding police treatment and interaction with persons with mental illness, cognitive delays such as FASD, or other disabilities. There has been a concerted effort to participate in national discussions related to mental illness through the Canadian Chiefs of Police (CACP) and work towards integrating current knowledge, research, and training.
Every new recruit at the Saskatchewan Police College receives 25 hours of intense mental health training dedicated to recognizing a mental illness, conflict resolution and de-escalation of violence. In addition, members are educated on recognizing the unique challenges of persons with mental illness including increased risks of marginalization, victimization, and social exclusion. Recruits and junior constables have classroom instruction as well as the opportunity to learn from someone affected by mental illness and hear their story and experience.
School Resource Officers are provided annual training to address issues associated with mental illness, FASD, and autism. Members of this section are provided annual training as a refresher to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness. The Regina Police Service has recognized that this type and frequency of education is important to providing respectful service when working with children, teens and their parents.
All police employees have received training from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Acting on the recommendations of evidence based research conducted by the Commission, two additional actions were taken. In 2014, all front line patrol members received training in a class called Living with Mental Illness. As part of that class, a member of the public shared their experience living with mental illness and offered ways for police to better provide service to this unique group.
In 2015, the Regina Police Service was successful in implementing a new staff position entitled the Mental Health Liaison Officer. A partnership between the Regina Police Service and the Regina Qu’Appelle Heath Region is currently dedicated to build on the education, research, and training already in place, and working to develop a Police and Crisis Team (PACT). The goal of this team is to provide proactive intervention with persons who are in need of immediate mental health intervention or who have a demonstrated a chronic need for police service. This same approach has been successful in other jurisdictions such as Saskatoon and Calgary, to name a few.
Concern #3 – Need for legitimate and robust complaints process and public accountability
In Saskatchewan, The Police Act, 1990 outlines the way a member of the public can make a complaint. In Section 38(2) of The Police Act, 1990, it is explained that a member of the public can make a complaint in a number of ways:
• To the office of the Public Complaints Commission (PCC);
• To a police service;
• To the Special Investigations Unit of FSIN;
• To the board office of the police service;
• To the police service directly; or
• To any detachment of the RCMP.
If a member of the public wants to make a complaint, they are required to fill out a Public Complaint Form at any of the above mentioned locations. The complainant is asked to make a written complaint with the event, concern, allegation, or issue.
Complaints made to the Regina Police Service are forwarded to the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) for investigative direction. The investigation may be conducted by the Regina Police Service or by the PCC, who may request a review of the call for service, any video or audio recordings, in-car camera or other evidence. Complaints made to the Board, RCMP, other police, PCC, or the Special Investigations Unit of FSIN are investigated by the PCC.
The Chief of Police may recommend, based on available evidence, that the PCC authorize the investigation of a public complaint, or terminate it if it is considered to be frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith.
Investigations conducted by the Regina Police Service are signed off by the Chief of Police and forwarded to the PCC for review. The Public Complaints Commission has ultimate decision making authority over the disposition of public complaints. There are three types of disposition: unfounded, substantiated and unsubstantiated.
Public Complaints may be either criminal or administrative in nature. In both cases, statements from involved police officers and witnesses are taken in addition to the complainant’s statement.
Administrative investigations are reviewed by the PCC. If warranted, the Chief of Police is responsible for determining the appropriate discipline. A number of discipline options are outlined in Section 60 of The Police Act, 1990 including, dismissal, demotion, suspension, probation, counseling, training and so on.
Criminal investigations are sent to the Crown Prosecutor’s office for opinion and consideration of charges. Should criminal charges be recommended against a police officer, disciplinary decisions are communicated to the public, including the name of the member charged. Hearings are public and all decisions are published on the Saskatchewan Police Commission website. When relevant, a member’s disciplinary history is disclosed during the course of criminal proceedings.
Over the last 8 years, 78%, or just over three-quarters of all allegations, both criminal and administrative, have been unfounded.
When a public complaint is submitted and the investigation is complete, the complainant will be contacted by the Public Complaints Commission regarding its outcome.
The Regina Police Service supports the importance of public accountability through oversight by the Board of Police Commissioners. The Board is comprised of two members at large from the public, one Aboriginal member, and three members of City Council. Members of the Board meet monthly with Executive management to provide regular and consistent assistance and oversight.
Concern #4 – Poor treatment of street workers and sexual harassment
Poor treatment of street workers has been an issue on the forefront of news media and social media sites in the past, and continues to be a concern for the public and the police. The marginalization of street workers and the hidden activities of involved persons elevate risk of harm for this group. Street workers are at a higher risk of being victimized and are reluctant to file formal reports with police. When a street worker does come forward to police, our members are trained to address these complaints as they would with any victim, regardless of age, gender, social lifestyle, ethnicity, or profession.
At the Regina Police Service, the Vice Unit is acutely aware of the difficulties and challenges of encouraging victimized street workers to report incidents to police. No complaints are considered trivial and all are taken seriously. Members of this unit in particular work diligently to follow up with any street worker who has come forward and made a complaint. Members routinely offer support including phone calls or visits, and will offer transportation to and from court if needed. In addition, there has been an effort to maintain contact with complainants and offer support throughout the entire court process.
A member of our Vice Unit offered the following quote when explaining the efforts to address the poor treatment of street workers.
“We strive to maintain a good relationship with the street workers and we put a lot of effort into letting them know that we are available to take any formal complaint they are willing to make, or take any information regarding violent customers, even if they want to remain anonymous.”
There has been, and continues to be, a complex relationship between police and street workers. One issue often raised is the targeted enforcement of “johns”. For some street workers this is disruptive to earning income, but police continue to operate these projects in an effort to identify any violent or dangerous customers that may mistreat workers.
Regarding the issue of sexual harassment raised by the group, there is no sexual harassment section in the Criminal Code of Canada. However, there is a section related to harassment or stalking. If a complaint of harassment or stalking is reported to police by a street worker, the same investigative process would be followed as it would with any victim. However, police take into account the high risk lifestyle of the worker as there is a greater potential of victimization. The Regina Police Service, including the Vice Unit, works hard to maintain current lists of high risk sex offenders living in or frequenting Regina. The Vice Unit in particular liaises with Probation Services and Parole to closely monitor these offenders and ensure they are abiding by their release conditions. Familiarity with the current conditions, physical features, motives, behaviors, and locations of these offenders has been successful in minimizing the risk such persons pose to the community and in particular to street workers.
Concern #5 – Escalation and excessive force and weaponry
A national Use of Force Model is taught to all Canadian police officers. It is a graphical representation of the level of force appropriate to the level of risk perceived by an officer. The Use of Force Model assists officers (and the public), to understand the force options available and guides the decision-making process. There are a number of factors officers must consider: number of suspects, weather conditions, lighting, non-compliance, verbal and non-verbal cues, are but a few.
The perception of the officer in assessing risk relies on training which is critical when decisions must often be made in a split second. Ultimately every police member’s goal is to de-escalate the situation and gain control to avoid victimization or harm from occurring. When there is an incident in which force is applied, it must be reported to the members’ supervisor for review as well as an internal Administrative Board for review.
The Criminal Code of Canada provides the statutory authority for police officers to use force when necessary in the execution of their duties. A number of Use of Force options are available to police; however, they are trained to use the least amount of force necessary to control the situation. The frequency of each type of force is monitored annually and every use of force report is reviewed for consideration of excessive force, and/or the need for additional training. Use of Force reporting is a requirement of the Saskatchewan Police Commission.
The media attention and concerns regarding CEW’s has been an issue in Canada and North America generally. However, CEW’s do provide officers another less lethal use of force option.
All police members are trained to apply force only when it is necessary and rely on verbal commands and other de-escalation techniques to avoid having to use force. Over the last five years, the Regina Police Service has reported a decrease in the number of use of force complaints.
Concern #6 – Development of successful and respectful relationships between RPS and the public
The earliest version of the Regina Police Service website existed in 2000 to help present information to the public. While it was a respectable effort for its time, technology and methods of engaging with the public have grown and the Regina Police Service website, www.reginapolice.ca is now in its fourth version. It is an informative and interactive site, boasting features such as: a Timeline, an ever-growing collection of videos, an archive of news releases since 2010, Annual Reports, recruiting information, Crime Prevention tips, Community Perception Surveys, FAQs, Agendas and Meeting schedules for the Board of Police Commissioners; links to Online Reporting and many other resources. The RPS website has had 1.9 million views since January of 2013 (the launch date for the latest version of the website). The busiest day on the website was Jan. 14, 2015, when there were 23,417 views. The Service has had a Media Development Officer (website development and maintenance) position since 2005.
The Regina Police Service has had a Facebook account, in its current form, since 2011 (there was an earlier version that was used mainly to push out recruiting information). RPS has also had a Twitter account since early 2009. The real momentum for the Service’s current efforts in engagement through social media came with the creation of a Social Media Officer position in 2009. The Facebook page has 19,249 “likes” and the Twitter account has 25,744 followers (as of March 23, 2015). Typically, the posts and tweets that garner the most public attention are those regarding missing persons and public disclosure notices and anything to do with traffic. Earlier this month, the post with the most reach (over 84,000 people) was the announcement of charges against a 16 year-old driver in connection to a fatal motor vehicle collision. On Twitter, the most-re-tweeted message was in support of the Saskatchewan Childrens’ hospital; re-tweeted over 3,100 times. The Regina Police Service also has a Vimeo account (videos) and Instagram (photos), but the bulk of public interaction is on Facebook and Twitter. It has been a marvelous tool (albeit time-consuming) for speaking directly with members of the public and answering their questions and concerns. It has also become a source of information used by reporters, who usually see our news releases and other information on social media first and then contact us for further information for their stories.
The Public Information and Strategic Communications Section has hosted a Media Police Academy, for reporters and photo-journalists, four times since 2010. This is a one-day, condensed version of our Citizens’ Police Academy.
Other examples of our outreach and engagement in the community include:
- Citizens’ Police Academy, which is now holding its 100th session. With two classes per year, approximately 30 people per class, this initiative has been a tremendous tool for community outreach for many years. There are always spots reserved in CPA for newcomers to our community.
- Student Police Academy: like the Media Police Academy, this is a one-day condensed version of CPA.
- Treaty-Four Citizen Police Academy – two weeks of exposure to police work, with the goal of increasing the number of potential First Nations and diversity recruit candidates.
- RPS Annual Showcase – held every year since 1996.
- The recruiting process, displays, career fairs, school visits, Ethics and Integrity testing, Polygraph;
- Annual Tree of Warmth (collecting warm clothing for children);
- Toy Drive;
- Partners for Life – Canadian Blood Services
- Our participation in the Sask. Polytechnic Aboriginal Police Program(APP) (bridging the gap);
- Our work with the Saskatchewan Police Aboriginal Recruitment Committee (SPARC) initiative;
- Blue & Beyond (attracting female candidates);
- Our mentorship program (diversity candidates);
- Our summer student program (diversity students);
- Work of the Cultural and Community Diversity Unit daily, including partnerships with the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) and the Regina Multi-Cultural Council (RMC);
- Satellite office at RODS and RMC one afternoon per week;
- The RPS tipi acquisition and blessing (1997);
- Our Diversity training annually, block training;
- Participation in community events like hosting the Round Dance, hosting the Tipi Feast, committee and partnership work for the Sisters in Spirit Vigil, the Provincial Partnership Committee on Missing Persons, Camp fYrefly, UR Pride Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, marching in the Pride Parade, assistance in planning the FNUC and other Pow-wows, the annual Tamra Keepness Barbecue, Treaty Four celebrations, recent assistance to NAIG, various marches and celebrations;
- United Way campaigns;
- Our Elders Advisory Committee;
- Our regular contact with Regina Treaty Status Indian Services (RTSIS – Day of Healing. Missing Persons. etc.), and FSIN leaders;
- The Regina Police Service Half Marathon;
- Support of Special Olympics
The Regina Police Service has endeavored to have an “open door” policy and encourage citizens to ask questions. Every day, the organization receives requests from community members or stakeholders for information related to crime statistics, traffic laws and rules, public speaking engagements, and presentations. Every section in the organization helps when they can to improve understanding in the community and interact through dialogue and conversation. Daily questions on Facebook and Twitter, emails and letters, phone calls and interviews are all part of our commitment to community engagement and transparency in serving the citizens of our community.
Since 2011, the Regina Police Service has conducted two Community Perception Surveys to gather the opinions and perceptions of the public. Members of the community are asked questions about their perceptions of trust and confidence in police, police presence and visibility, contact with police, perceptions of crime and fear of crime, and the quality of police service received. For a third time this year, the Regina Police Service will conduct this survey to ensure that the citizens’ opinions are heard.
As part of the strategic planning process, the Regina Police Service also holds a community stakeholder session to ask community input on the needs and priorities for the police service going forward. Once the Strategic Plan is complete, the community is welcomed back for a gathering to see the final product and provide further feedback on the process. This past year, about 100 community stakeholders were present to assist the Regina Police Service in establishing direction for the next 4 years.
To support the wellbeing and health of residents, the Regina Police Service also organizes an annual Half Marathon. In its 12th year, this sold out event often attracts about 1,000 participants. A number of initiatives in the community have become tradition such as annual support of the United Way, the annual Plywood Cup in support of local charities, and the annual Showcase event held at Evraz Place.
Concern #7 – Legitimate consequences for misconduct; reparations for past acts; full disclosure of events and outcomes
As mentioned in the response to question 3, there is a robust process in place to address public complaints against the police service and/or one of its members. If a criminal allegation is deemed to be substantiated and charges are recommended by the Crown, a criminal trial will commence.
Substantiated administrative complaints can result in a member being disciplined under Section 60 of The Police Act, 1990. This Section authorizes the Chief of Police to utilize a number of options, including dismissal, demotion, suspension, probation, counseling, fines, treatment, and training.
Formal discipline is kept on a police officer’s service record for two years in the case of a minor offence against discipline and five years for a major offence against discipline.
Concern #8 – Focus on mediation (of events) and peaceful interaction with all members of the public
Members of the Regina Police Service are actively involved with community groups to improve understanding and build relationships in an effort to have peaceful and respectful interactions. One example is the work with the Regina Open Door Society. Presentations to inform new community members of their rights, the law, and how to stay safe are included.
Cultural and diversity training to all members of the organization has continued for several years. The goal continues to be ensuring that our members are aware of the needs of the community in order to continue positive relationships. Improvements to training, education, and service for those persons with mental illness have increased year over year. In 2015, a Mental Health Liaison Officer position was created.
The complaint process as previously explained is fair and has an impartial oversight through the Provincial Complaints Commission (PCC) which supports transparency in the organization. Daily efforts on social media as well as during major events such as Grey Cup, major concerts, different rallies or walks, Queen City Parade, and other events are just a few examples of peaceful interactions with all members of the community by members of the Regina Police Service.
Mediation of events is part of the daily job of front line patrol. Our calls for service number around 60,000 per year, often in circumstances of trauma, emotion and conflict. In addition our employees interact with the public in hundreds of thousands of face to face contacts, annually. Every call for service, every traffic stop, and every conversation with complainants and victims requires mediation skills and respectful interaction. To measure our success, we have committed to conducting the Community Perception Survey, a formal complaints process, a direct reporting line, and access to social media and email contact to facilitate open lines of communication with the public. Each year, the Regina Police Service also organizes and spends a great deal of time with members of the Citizens Police Academy offering education and information about the different roles and jobs of various units in the organization. This has been a continued effort which has expanded to include specialized courses offered to media and newcomers. Any member of the public may apply through our Human Resources Department.