Po­lice chief re­flects on tough year

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Re­flect­ing on the chal­lenges of 2018, Regina po­lice Chief Evan Bray replies, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, “guns, gangs and drugs” — trends that will con­tinue into the new year. Bray stressed that and the need to at­tack those key is­sues with the help of com­mu­nity part­ners.Q How can a po­lice agency ef­fec­tively re­v­erse the rise in gun crimes?A We need to con­duct swift and ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions that hold of­fend­ers ac­count­able ... But there are also ways that we can con­tinue to work with our cor­rec­tions part­ners ... If peo­ple do time in a cor­rec­tional fa­cil­ity, can we make bet­ter use of that time to help try and dig into what’s caus­ing them to com­mit these high-risk ac­tiv­i­ties?Q Auto thefts are up52 per cent year over year. What has changed?A The cars that are be­ing stolen now are be­ing used in the com­mis­sion of of­fences — they’re com­mit­ting break-and-en­ters and home in­va­sions, they’re evad­ing po­lice, they’re a way to trans­port drugs, of­ten­times they have firearms in­side. Of­ten­times, we’re re­cov­er­ing cars that have been stolen that have been tagged with gang tags ... It used to be that they’d drive around un­til they ran out of gas, then they’d ditch it.Now we see crim­i­nals steal­ing cars, switch­ing plates — ev­ery­thing ’s done with an in­tent to avoid de­tec­tion while they’re com­mit­ting a crime.Q While meth is a big prob­lem, how much is fen­tanyl mak­ing in­roads?A Fen­tanyl pro­vides se­ri­ous health risks to peo­ple that in­gest it, (but) meth drives our crime rate ... It’s read­ily ac­ces­si­ble in the com­mu­nity, it’s rel­a­tively cheap and it’s got strong ad­dic­tive qual­i­ties, so those are three pretty lethal com­bi­na­tions.Q This sum­mer’s big story was the protest camp by the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing. Was the forced take­down on June 18 a mis­take, since after that, the en­camp­ment grew to 15 teepees and gained more sup­port­ers?A I wouldn’t do any­thing dif­fer­ent ... The day (June 15) we were go­ing to go in and stand by to keep the peace while the Provin­cial Cap­i­tal Com­mis­sion re­moved the prop­erty from that space, we had had a lot of di­a­logue with the protest camp and felt we were in a place where we were go­ing to have co-op­er­a­tion ... Re­ally, we got a lot of co-op­er­a­tion with the ex­cep­tion of the sa­cred teepee, which they said they wanted time to be able to take that down ... We gave them that time. It came down and then went back up again ...We went in there (June 18) in good faith, think­ing that we were go­ing to have co-op­er­a­tion ... It wasn’t our in­tent to go in there and make ar­rests. Un­for­tu­nately we did, be­cause that’s the way the sit­u­a­tion un­folded ... Would that have taken a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion had we not done that? Ab­so­lutely, that’s a pos­si­bil­ity.Q Is there more the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice can do to ad­dress the con­cerns of the fam­i­lies of Na­dine Machiskinic (who died after fall­ing down a ho­tel laun­dry chute in Jan­uary 2015) or Haven Dubois (a 14-year-old who drowned in May 2015)?A I have made ev­ery ef­fort to try and ad­dress their is­sues as com­pletely as I can. The chal­lenge is, I don’t think I’m ever go­ing to be able to an­swer the ques­tions that they would like an­swered. I can’t change the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to have it show some­thing dif­fer­ent than what the in­ves­ti­ga­tions ended up show­ing. In both cases, there’s no ev­i­dence that some­one was crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble.Q Why not re­lease the re­port by the RCMP re­view­ing the Machiskinic in­ves­ti­ga­tion?A When I asked for that re­port, it re­ally was to try and have the RCMP take a look at our in­ves­tiga­tive process and give us some thought­ful rec­om­men­da­tions, what we could change go­ing for­ward to pre­vent a cou­ple of the de­lays that hap­pened dur­ing that in­ves­ti­ga­tion ... I talked with the fam­ily about it. I talked fairly openly through the me­dia to the pub­lic about what those rec­om­men­da­tions were.Q But you can see where peo­ple might be sus­pi­cious about trans­parency?A I don’t ever want to be at a place where, as the chief of po­lice, I say, ‘I don’t want to ask some­one for ad­vice or sug­ges­tions go­ing for­ward for fear that I have to do it in a pub­lic fo­rum.’ Would peo­ple be hap­pier if I as the chief of po­lice said in April after the coro­ner’s in­quest, ‘We’re done, that’s it, there’s noth­ing more I need to do?’ ... I don’t think I’d be do­ing my job as chief. I don’t feel like I should have to do ev­ery­thing with an open roof so ev­ery­thing can be done pub­licly. I com­mit­ted to a sig­nif­i­cant re­view and process go­ing for­ward that is ab­so­lutely go­ing to make us bet­ter. I com­mit­ted to that with­out be­ing told I had to do it ... And peo­ple are crit­i­cal now of the man­ner in which I’m do­ing it.Q Four years ago the pre­vi­ous chief, Troy Ha­gen, in speak­ing about street checks said, “There is ab­so­lutely no rea­son for me to be­lieve that we have racists within the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice.” Is there racism at RPS?A How can I say no? It ex­ists ab­so­lutely ev­ery­where. My job is to try to train and ed­u­cate mem­bers so that they don’t have racist thoughts and cer­tainly to en­sure that mem­bers don’t act and make op­er­a­tional de­ci­sions based on racial bias ...Last year, our round dance was held on the same day the Ger­ald Stan­ley ver­dict came down ... We knew that that wasn’t go­ing to mean good things for not just Regina, but Saskatchewan in gen­eral. And yet, more peo­ple came to our round dance after that, (in­clud­ing) First Na­tions chiefs ... and lead­ers ... To me, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion or if we’re just talk­ing about en­trench­ing and build­ing bet­ter re­la­tion­ships, it’s never go­ing to be done. It’s al­ways got to be work that we fo­cus on. We’re work­ing against years of his­tory where there’s been frac­tured re­la­tion­ships.

Mem­bers of Was­cana Cen­tre Au­thor­ity and the Regina Po­lice Ser­vice were in Was­cana Park on June 18 to take down the teepee at the Jus­tice for Our Stolen Chil­dren camp in Regina. Look­ing back on that day, po­lice Chief Evan Bray says he “wouldn’t do any­thing dif­fer­ent.”

Bray tells the Leader-post that he has made ev­ery ef­fort to ad­dress the con­cerns of the fam­i­lies of Na­dine Machiskinic and Haven Dubois as com­pletely as he can. Both died in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents in 2015.

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