Federal government renews funding for Aboriginal police services
The federal government has agreed to maintain funding over the next five years for policing agreements with First Nation and Inuit communities under the First Nations Policing Program.
“Our government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on March 4. “Today’s announcement provides stable multi-year funding for policing services in First Nation and Inuit communities. Our government will continue to support First Nation and Inuit policing as part of its ongoing commitment to keeping our streets and communities safe.”
The agreement provides five years of guaranteed funding for police forces such as Nishnawbe-Aski Police Services, although fails to address the calls for First Nations police forces to be legislated like provincial and municipal forces.
Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service Acting Chief of Police Bob Herman both recently called for NAPS to be operated as a legislated police service instead of the program it currently operates as.
“We would be obligated to meet those (legislated) standards and we would need proper resourcing to meet those standards,” Fiddler said. “The way we operate, the way our facilities are constructed, all aspects of policing, we would have to meet all those. But the way it is now, that is not the case.”
Fiddler said NAPS has been operating for the past 18 years, since it was founded, as a program subject to capped funding and funding cuts.
“Our communities deserve a police force that has (equivalent policing) standards and is funded to meet those standards,” Fiddler said.
Herman also called for an increase in funding, noting that NAPS has not had a significant increase in funding since 2009.
“Other police services are properly funded and each year can actually get their funding increased to meet their needs,” Herman said. “For almost five years we haven’t had that opportunity.”
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed the announcement by Toews.
“An immediate renewal of funding and then a commitment to working towards long term sustainability is very important,” Atleo said. “Now we must turn our attention to all jurisdictions working together to strengthen and secure First Nations policing through partnership and innovation. It is essential that we promote and deliver on safety and security for all of our communities.”
The First Nations Policing Program supports professional, dedicated and culturally-responsive policing services to First Nation and Inuit communities. The program provided funding to 163 policing agreements in 2012-13, which represent about 1,250 professionally-trained and dedicated police officers working in about 400 First Nation and Inuit communities, serving a total population of over 338,000.
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