The Police Chief - December 2011 - (Page 80)

Providing Effective Policing for Aboriginal Communities By Chris D. Lewis, Commissioner, Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario, Canada Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a two-part series. In the June 2011 issue of Police Chief magazine, Commissioner Lewis explored subject complexities in his article “Policing Aboriginal Critical Incidents.” In this second article, Commissioner Lewis examines the challenges of providing and supporting regular policing in First Nations communities. province that are not serviced by a municipal police service. This obligation places the OPP in a unique position with respect to the policing of First Nations territories in Ontario. Historically, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provided all police services to Ontario First Nations, in keeping with the view that Indian affairs were at one time considered a federal responsibility. This began to change in the 1960s, when federal financial support for on-reserve policing began to replace direct-service delivery. The RCMP withdrew and, by the early 1970s, OPP officers, supplemented by local community special constables with limited authority, were policing all of Ontario’s First Nations reserve communities. Fly-in patrol units were established to reach the remote communities scattered throughout Ontario’s far north. By the mid1970s, these units were logging hundreds of thousands of flying hours supervising local special constables, offering guidance on federal Indian Act bylaw offenses, conducting investigations into serious crimes, and liaising with community leadership on policing issues. The distances, the isolation, the lack of radio communication, and the need to use frozen lakes and rivers as landing strips made for extremely challenging policing conditions. By 1989, self-policing for First Nations was a growing focus. The Six Nations Police, established in 1989 and located in the southwest part of the province on the Six Nations of the Grand River near Hamilton, and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police, established in 1990 and located in the southeast, led the way as independent police services. In 1992, the concept of community choice and the self-directed policing option were entrenched in the Ontario First Nations Policing Agreement 1991–1996 (OFNPA), considered a landmark tripartite agreement among the federal government, the provincial government and the First Nations. This agreement and subsequent renewals set the stage for a gradual expansion of self-directed First Nations police services in Ontario. Today, the OPP directly polices 19 First Nations communities, is the administrative support for policing in another 19 OFNPA communities, and provides operational and specialty services support for the 9 selfdirected First Nations police services that provide frontline policing to 94 Ontario First Nations communities. While the OPP no longer provides direct service delivery to most of Ontario’s First Nations, it has a vested interest in the sustainability and the effectiveness of their policing. The priority is community safety, and the OPP continues to help train, support, and advocate for improved conditions so that policing can effectively meet First Nations’ community needs in Ontario. For a variety of complex reasons, particularly in remote and isolated communities, this remains an immense challenge. A round the world, critical incidents related to issues of indigenous rights or social and economic conditions in indigenous communities often attract national and international media coverage, but day-to-day policing at the community level is rarely mentioned or explored. Many indigenous communities are small and isolated, and their unique needs make the task of providing effective local policing challenging, complex, and often frustrating. The Ontario Perspective Ontario, Canada, has the largest indigenous or Aboriginal population of any Canadian province; an estimated 296,495 individuals are identified as North American Indian (First Nations), Métis, or Inuit. Most live in urban centers throughout the province with only 30 percent of this population living in First Nations reserve communities. There are 133 such communities in Ontario, as identified by the Chiefs of Ontario, and 127 of these are recognized under the federal Indian Act.1 Many other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world have similar Aboriginal populations, although individual histories, language, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs vary dramatically. The Police Services Act of Ontario obligates the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to provide police services in all parts of the 80 THE POLICE CHIEF/DECEMBER 2011 Difficult Conditions Conditions in Ontario First Nations communities vary greatly. Some, such as Six Nations of the Grand River and Chippewas of Rama near Orillia in central Ontario, are located on good transportation routes adjacent to nearby towns and cities with easy access to a diversified economy and varied educational opportunities. Others, such as Kashechewan First Nation on the shores of Hudson Bay and Pikangikum First Nation in the far northwest, are small, isolated communities accessible only by air and winter roads when the muskeg and ice

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Police Chief - December 2011

President’s Message: The Time for a National Commission Has Come
Legislative Alert: National Criminal Justice Commission Legislation Falls Short of Passage
IACP Foundation: Fueled Up to Fund the Foundation: Harley-Davidson Raffle Kicked Off at Conference
Chief’s Counsel: Postincident Video Review
From the Assistant Director: The U.S. Secret Service Partners with State, Local, and International Law Enforcement to Pursue the World’s Most Wanted Cybercriminals
Advances & Applications
Taking the Straw Man to the Ground: Arguments in Support of the Linear Use-of-Force Continuum
How Police Can Use Hospital Laws to Speed Processing in Hospital Emergency Departments
On Choosing the Right Operational Police Physician
Report of the 118th Annual IACP Conference: Chicago
Board of Officers
General Assemblies
IACP Business
Exhibit Hall
Special Events
Thank You, Chicago
Life Members
New Members
Exhibitor Update
Intelligence-Led Policing: The Future Is Now
“Just a Volunteer”: Supporting An Agency’s Volunteer Program through Difficult Times
Providing Effective Policing for Aboriginal Communities
The IACP and Alcatel-Lucent Present International and Domestic Police Officer of the Year Awards
2011 Author Index
2011 Subject Index
Technology Talk
Index to Advertisers
Highway Safety Initiatives

The Police Chief - December 2011