Yesterday the Winnipeg Police held a community consultation at the Indian Metis Friendship Centre for the indigenous community. It was a great opportunity for community members to receive some information from the police, share some of their concerns and talk about how we can all move forward together. This is the last of 6 other consultations that have already occured in the city. Shortly after the 3 hour session that the police chief, members of community relations/Indigenous partnership section (about 15 officers total), Councillor Scott Gillingham Police Board Chair & about 40 community members took part in, the WPS chopper AIR1 broadcasted a conversation to Winnipeg’s West End about blow jobs.
In an era of Ferguson, regular accusations of police excessive force, over incarceration of indigenous men and women I was looking forward to checking out the news today to see how the press captured what went down. Sadly, today in the media all I hear about is how the WPS helicopter was having an inappropriate conversation.
Winnipeg Free Press: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Why–309188261.html
If the media were to report on the positives, I’d hope they include some details around how respectful the environment was, how there was food provided and also facilitators to capture our concerns at the table groups. At my table, which included Kevin Settee, Chris Clacio, Jim Sinclair (Friendship Ctr ED), Onoshawewin elders/staff we were able to present several ideas that we believe would help improve community safety including:
– making the toolkit for families who have a relative go missing (developed by Kani Ka Nichihk) available in all police stations
– more opportunities for community members to learn about how WPS prioritizes calls, operates & ways citizens can be involved
– increased communication training for 911 & WPS non emergency civilian call centre operators
– our hope for a citizen led mechanism that handles police complaints, improving or replacing the current Professional Standards Unit
Because it was a discussion, The WPS also shared some of their recent successes including:
– great community engagement at events such as 100 Basketballs & Restore Our Core
– additions on indigenous culture, history & experiences added to the training of all future cadets and WPS members
– great use of social media, especially twitter (@wpgpolice)
– outreach is underway to connect with the Treaty 1 First Nations chiefs to craft a shared solution regarding the many off reserve band members & the WPS
Our attention gives power. That’s why I am writing this, hoping to shed some light on the productive steps that are being taken to prevent blow ups between police and community. And last night, although it was a funny situation that happened with the helicopter, I’m pretty disappointed there isn’t a single news article describing the consultation.
How do we move forward from here? What is the role of community, police and media in facilitating this improved relationship? Should the helicopter story be getting more attention than the consultation?