MacLean’s Publishes Powerful Feature on NAPS Policing
Published on July 24, 2018, the MacLean’s article “Inside the impossible work of Canada’s biggest Indigenous police force“ explains how police officers in Indigenous communities, like Officer Joseph Angees, have their “personal life often intersected with the job”…. and devastating moments are relentless. Angees “responded to “numerous” deaths or suicides of cousins and nephews. More recently, he was on the job when his brother died in a house fire. And the day after each tragedy, he went back to work.” To watch the MacLean’s video on NAPS, please click here.
The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (“NAPS”) polices 35 First Nations with 160 officers across the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (“NAN”) in northern Ontario. Falconers LLP acts as legal counsel for NAPS and NAN.
NAPS Chief of Police, Terry Armstrong, stated, “the en-catchment area is two-thirds the size of Ontario, when you look at that vast region we police its huge… and it comes with numerous challenges. Quite often Chief’s and Councillors would tag along with the officers because there’s only one officer…where else in this world does a Mayor or town Councillor have to go out to help the police wrestle somebody down in the mud, this just doesn’t happen so why does it have to happen here – why is it happening here still?”
Chief Armstrong also commented, “in the simplest form, if you need a police officer you should be able to pick-up the phone and get one…and safety, I can’t confidently say with the numbers that we’ve been working with, that the communities are safe, and that’s the job I swore to do.”
The homicide and sexual assault rates were, respectively, five and 12 times the provincial average in 2016. NAPS was formed to help change that, but…has been plagued by what independent auditors have described as severe underfunding and resource deficiencies, compounded by the unique challenges that come with policing northern communities, as reported by MacLean’s.
On March 8, 2018, the Safer Ontario Act, or Bill 175, received royal assent in the province’s legislature, and the parts of it that pertain to NAPS are expected to be proclaimed law in early 2019. It will allow NAPS to be brought under the Police Services Act, effectively guaranteeing that Ontario maintains the largest First Nations police force in Canada to the same standard as its municipal counterparts—leaving behind a time when officers have no partners, and where infrastructural decay goes unchanged. The force will be better funded and will be overseen by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
In the News
Inside the impossible work of Canada’s biggest Indigenous police force MacLean’s, July 24, 2018