A new policy was announced Tuesday by the Saskatchewan Police Commission governing the conduct of contact interviews.
The policy, implemented immediately hopes to achieve the Commission’s mandate of promoting adequate and effective police across Saskatchewan and includes all municipal and First Nations police services in Saskatchewan.
“We believe that community safety is best accomplished when police work with the public in pursuit of common objectives,” Saskatchewan Police Commission Chair Neil Robertson said in a news release.
“This policy recognizes that police need to positively and proactively engage with the people of the communities they serve to accomplish that goal. It also recognizes that these interactions need to be conducted in a manner that respects, protects and enshrines the fundamental rights and freedoms we all enjoy in this country,” Robertson also said.
The new police says that contact interviews will be voluntarily only, and that the public is not required to answer questions or speak with investigators during interrogations. It also states a person can walk away at any time.
Interviews will not be done at random or an arbitrary basis, identifiable populations will not be targeted for contact interviews either.
At the same time the policy does not apply to normal conversations between officers and the public. It is to avoid restricting the ability of police to engage with members of their community in normal social settings.
President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers Casey Ward says is part of the feedback they’ve heard from the public.
“One thing that everyone said to us is ‘we want officers to stop and talk, we want police officers to get out of their cars, if there’s a sports game on, to come talk to the community, we want them coming to our schools, we want them to be out there and be present.”
The policy was studied and consulted independently for over two and a half years before it’s implementation on Wednesday.
Before giving the policy the green light, police leaders, officers, First Nations peoples, Crown prosecutors, civilian police governance, the legal profession, human rights advocates, academics and the general public were all consulted.
Files from Ryan McNally