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Province Approves Plans To Train Indian Mounties

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 1974      v04 n06&07 p04  
Roy Romanow
Roy Romanow
Regina - Final approval by the Chiefs of Saskatchewan is all that is needed before an Indian special constable program can begin in the province this fall.

The, Indian special constables would be trained and employed by the RCMP to work with Indian people on their reserves.

Saskatchewan Attorney-General Roy Romanow says the province is ready to proceed with the program and is only waiting for final approval by the, Indian people. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians first proposed the plan and has been working with the attorney general's department in developing the program.

Mr. Romanow says he expects the special constable program to accomplish two things; "to get more policing for reserves and secondly to get more understanding of the Native problem by the R.C.M.P. and vice-versa."

Mr. Romanow said greater policing was needed because "I think it is correct to say that there is a sort of lawlessness that is cropping up in some areas - although not only on reserves of course."

He said he hoped the program would help "to try and restore some of the respect for the police that used to be there in the old days."

"The allegation now is that the RCMP are only seen when there is a hot pursuit, or an arrest, or some sort of disturbance to quell and that the police have lost touch with community activities, their hopes and aspirations."

"Hopefully this special constable will be an Indian person who will do the policing function, which is very vital, but as well will be a sort of educator for the RCMP. He will be a sort of pipeline between the Native people and the RCMP and he'll be able to explain the ways and the habits of the community."

The special constable will have the same police powers as a regular member of the force, but will forego some of the formal training, Mr. Romanow said.

"The special constable aspect comes into play by virtue; of the fact that we would like him to devote a considerable portion of his time being this pipeline between the reserve on the one hand and the police arm on the other hand."

If the plan is approved by Indians, the first compliment of eight special constables would begin training this fall and another eight would begin training six months after that, the attorney general said. The ultimate size of the force is expected to be 32 members.

Applicants for the program will not have to "meet the traditional standards of the force because otherwise we would have a very tough time getting the type of strength we would like to have," Mr. Romanow said.

He said the constable's training would include courses on Indian culture.

Although proposed by the F.S.I. nearly three years ago, the special constable program has been stalled these past two years by negotiations between the province and the federal government about cost sharing. Although no agreement has yet been reached, Mr. Romanow said negotiations have been resumed and it appears the federal government will be paying the greatest share of the cost.