Pubdate: Sat, 24 Dec 2016
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2016 The StarPhoenix
Author: Charles Hamilton
Page: A2


Police chief says intervention, education key to tackling

For the first time under Chief Clive Weighill's tenure, crime in
Saskatoon is going up. This city has the highest murder rate in the
country and thefts and break-ins are spiking. The StarPhoenix sat down
with the city's police chief to talk crime and what's next for 2017.

Q The rise of methamphetamine is well documented in Saskatoon. You've
said it's a main contributor to the city's crime rate. How are you
going to combat it?

A I don't see it changing anytime soon. Certainly, we are going need
some intervention. I don't know if that's more addictions clinics, but
certainly more education on the perils of the drug. Unfortunately,
we've got a lot of people who haven't got a lot to live for and it's a
very addictive drug. The high is very high. It goes right to your head
and people enjoy it. Once you are addicted to it, you don't work, you
are up for five or six days sometimes. You're not thinking clear and
you sometimes commit crime to get the money you need.

Q As the past president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of
Police, you've been tapped to be the liaison for the inquiry into
missing and murdered indigenous women. What is the issue as you see
it, and where should the inquiry go?

A Certainly, it has caught the national attention because of the
awareness and the issue itself. This is a huge issue, not only with
missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, but also with men.
This is a problem we've got in Canadian society with a huge
marginalized population. There are reasons for that - the residential
schools, colonization. But we are all left here now trying to deal
with this. We have to start looking forward. I think one of the main
things we have to look at is the root causes. What is causing this? In
my opinion, it's poverty, it's (lack of ) housing, it's racism, it's
disadvantage. It's putting women and girls in vulnerable situations.
So if we can't come to grips and solve those root causes we are going
to continue to investigate cases of missing and murdered indigenous

Q Looking forward to 2017, we could see marijuana legalized by the
federal government. How big a change is that going to be for your officers?

A I think it will be a real world changing view of drug enforcement in
Canada for every police service. I don't expect it will happen in
2017. They are going to introduce legalization in the spring, but it
will still have to go through committees and hearings. I think we are
looking at 2018, so we will have another year to figure things out.
>From what I can understand from most of the people who've been working
on this, there are three or four things that are very important:
keeping it away from youth, having some kind of a regulatory system so
we can have some control over it, and making sure that people who do
supply it are regulated so that when people are buying something, they
know it's a safe product and there are no pesticides or chemicals in
it. There has to be, as well, ability for police to enforce any laws
that might come with that, when it comes to impaired (driving) for
example. We don't have a test for it.

Q What about street checks? That is one area of contention with the
indigenous population and it also became an election issue.

A I've had long talks with the mayor and he is opposed - as he should
be - to random or arbitrary street checks. We are working our way
through that with the Saskatchewan Police Commission. Our board will
look at the policy and then we will decide what our policy is. I would
hope that with a situation like this that is very controversial that
we don't get polarized on it. You can have a situation where police
can never stop anybody under any circumstances or the police saying,
'No we are going to keep doing it and it doesn't matter what you say.'
We have to find a compromise. Some people will never agree, but I
think we can find a middle.

Q Are the street checks your service is doing random or

A I can't say that every check we have done has never been arbitrary.
I can't say that. I can say the good majority of them, we are there
for a reason and we have grounds to do that. We have asked our
officers as a first step that when they stop somebody, tell them why
you are stopping them. Don't stop them and ask them what they are doing.
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