Police chief reflects on tough year
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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