The Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners fully supports an independent review of policy and standards related to the care and oversight of people in police custody following three in-custody deaths since October. As elected officials and members of the community, the Board of Police Commissioners provides oversight of the police service on matters related to general direction, policy and priorities.
The Board acknowledges the concerns and questions from the public following the death of three persons who had been detained by police. Each loss is a tragedy of individual circumstances and each involved a person who was loved and will be missed. As a board, we extend our condolences to those who are grieving.
The investigations into each of these three in-custody deaths will be thorough and is expected to take a considerable amount of time. While we are appreciative of the extensive processes now underway, as a board, we too are anxious to receive the findings from each investigation. As the investigations into each in-custody death continues, the Board is planning discussions with leadership from the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) in the coming days to address their concerns and questions on the role of the Board and its oversight of the Prince Albert Police Service. Members of the Board look forward to open discussion on police policy and compliance and appreciate the opportunity to hear directly from local leadership.
The Board has also reviewed information relating to policy and procedures currently in place at the police service, especially as it relates to cell checks and the safety of detainees in custody, policy and oversight of each investigation, and recommendations that have been implemented by the police service following coroner’s inquests from previous reviews. The Board fully supports a review by the Saskatchewan Police Commission into the care and standards of those in police custody. The Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners has discussed in-custody deaths with Chief Jonathan Bergen and members of administration, and Chief Bergen has committed to conducting an immediate policy compliance audit around current detention checks and monitoring, care of custody, and staff roles and responsibility. A very detailed set of policies and procedures is in place guiding detention and custody in cells, including directives around video surveillance and monitoring, training and expectations of police members and detention staff, and the on-site paramedic program in cells who are medically trained professionals monitoring persons in the detention area each night from 7:30 p.m. – 7:30 a.m.
The Board fully supports Chief Bergen and administration in conducting an immediate assessment of police detention procedure, current practices and compliance to current policy. The health and safety of individuals in the custody of the Prince Albert Police Service is a priority for the Board and the Board remains committed to full transparency and accountability to the community.
Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners