Broken Trust is the very descriptive title of an eye-opening report into the Thunder Bay Police Service and how they investigate Indigenous peoples deaths.
Office of the Independent Police Review Director Gerry McNeilly says overall he finds systemic racism exists in the police force, however not all police officers engaged in intentional racism.
McNeilly suggests the Police should publicly acknowledge racism exists within the force and asks them to take a leadership role in repairing the relationship between the service and the Indigenous community.
The over 200-page report lays out a very descriptive and thorough review of some high profile police investigations and racist incidents in our community.
It states police officers too readily presumed the cause of death as an accident in cases of Indigenous sudden deaths.
It goes on to say they failed to take even the most basic investigative steps in many sudden death cases.
The report suggests nine sudden death investigations by the Thunder Bay Police Service should be re-investigated because they are so problematic.
In the closing remarks, Director McNeilly is hopeful and feels the relationship between police and the Indigenous community can be improved through making some fundamental changes.
Those changes include how senior police management performs its duties including ensuring their investigations are timely, effective and non-discriminatory.
The report also suggests Indigenous culture and anti-racism training must be embedded in the organization and has to be more than just the “flavour of the month.”
Promotions within the force should also be tied to Indigenous cultural competency.
It’s also suggested police acknowledge publicly the severe deficiencies in how it investigates Indigenous missing persons and unexpected deaths.
McNeilly intends to monitor how and to what extent his recommendations are being implemented by our local police force.
The Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation fully supports the report stating there is racism within the Thunder Bay Police Service.
Alvin Fiddler agrees with the findings and its 44 recommendations and wants to be a part of the process to make sure they are fully implemented.
The NAN Grand Chief is not hopeful the police service will make any progress on those recommendations.
Fiddler notes a statement from Police Chief Sylvie Hauth talks about systemic barriers, but “doesn’t acknowledge there is a real issue with racism” within the force.
Statement from the Chief of Police. https://t.co/7Mq0R24ai9
— Thunder Bay Police (@tbpsmedia) December 12, 2018
However, after Chief Hauth admitted to our newsroom there is systemic racism on the force, Grand Chief Fiddler said: ” you only get one chance to make a first impression.”
Hauth tells us “there are barriers within the police service but also systemic racism, there are also implicit biases and for me to be able to say that today is not something that is new.”
The police chief adds she takes this report very seriously and she will take the recommendations and act upon them.
Hauth says she has a good working relationship with a number of Indigenous organizations including Nishnawbe Aski Nation.
City Police released a full statement Wednesday afternoon and you can read it below.
Mayor Bill Mauro says the City is also interested in the findings of the report.
He says City Council will help lobby the provincial and federal governments for funding to implement the recommendations, but only if that’s what the Police Chief wants.