Today, Prince Albert Police Chief Jonathan Bergen spoke to media about the recent death of a 13-month-old child from our community and the Police Act investigation currently underway by the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission.
This follows questions from the family of young Tanner Brass, along with the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN). It has been three weeks since young Tanner was killed, in what has no doubt left his family with many questions that still haven’t been answered.
On February 10, 2022, the Prince Albert Police Service was called to the 200 block of 23rd Street West for a family dispute, at 5:44am. Police were called back to that residence around 11 a.m. that same day for the homicide of baby Tanner Brass.
Immediately following this tragedy, Chief Bergen ordered an investigation into the initial response to this call for service and notified the Public Complaints Commission (PCC). Within days, Chief Bergen restructured the administration team by appointing Lisa Simonson as a new inspector with the specific task to enhance oversight on patrol, while ensuring our practices are aligned with policy and legislation. Further to the restructure and enhanced oversight, a request has been made for the Saskatchewan Police Commission to conduct a complete review and audit on the organization’s response to family violence under their authority of 19(2)(e) of The Police Act, 1990.
Chief Bergen acknowledged Wednesday that three weeks is a long time to wait for answers following the death of a child.
“I acknowledge the weight and stress that Tanner’s mother and family are experiencing as we wait for more information from this investigation,” Chief Bergen said Wednesday. “We are hopeful that the PCC will complete its investigation soon, but we know that it can often take months to receive a complete and thorough investigation.”
While Chief Bergen could not go into specifics about the investigation, he spoke of the need for enhanced oversight and supervision on patrol and addressed concerns from the family of Tanner Brass, the PAGC, and the FSIN. There is a need to ensure our practices are aligned to policy and legislation, Chief Bergen said.
“I want to be very clear that every single one of us here at the Prince Albert Police Service has a responsibility. Not just some of us, but all of us.” he added. “We have policies and legislation in place to guide how we respond to calls involving family disputes and intimate partner violence. At the time of Baby Tanner’s death, we ordered an investigation to allow for a thorough review of our response to this call for service.”
The Police Act investigation will determine exactly what happened and what further response or actions may be required, he added.
“We know this is a long process and we don’t have the answers that Tanner’s mother deserves right now,” Chief Bergen said. “We know we need to do better and we will, that’s what we are committed to.”