Saskatoon police chief sees potential in new Sask. Marshals Service, but unclear on its jurisdiction

Chief Troy Cooper doesn't know how the new Saskatchewan Marshals Service will mesh with the Saskatoon Police Service. (CBC - image credit)
Chief Troy Cooper doesn't know how the new Saskatchewan Marshals Service will mesh with the Saskatoon Police Service. (CBC - image credit)

It's tough for the top cop in Saskatchewan's biggest city to offer an informed opinion on a new provincial policing agency that won't be operational until 2026.

The government didn't ask Chief Troy Cooper of the Saskatoon Police Service for his thoughts on what might go into Saskatchewan Marshals Service, and he still has no clear idea on how it will operate provincially or mesh with his officers when it becomes operational in 2026.

"I guess. personally. my response to it will really depend on what it turns out to look like," he said in an interview.

If "it's a provincial support that I can access, that's great news. If it's something that will be integrated within our services here, great news. If it's instead of some other things that I need, maybe not such great news."

Cooper admits he's guessing about the impact, and that leaves a bad taste.

"We would have been interested … I would have been interested in providing some, you know, some opinion and suggestions and input at least on the development of a policing agency in Saskatchewan," he said.

Christine Tell, minister of corrections, policing, and public safety, has said the service is not meant to take over the duties of the RCMP or municipal forces, but will support them while also conducting "proactive investigations."

The ministry said the SMS will respond to areas with high crime rates, arrest people with outstanding warrants, and investigate farming-related offences such as theft and trespassing.

According to Tell, the officers will be "more highly trained" and experienced than basic police recruits, and will not be focused on "community" policing as municipal forces and the RCMP are.

The minister said the SMS is still in the early stages but expects officers to be located in different parts of the province.

"I'm envisioning that to be in a number of locations throughout the province, bearing in mind that this team will be able to be mobile and that's a critical aspect of all of this."

Kirk Fraser/CBC
Kirk Fraser/CBC

Cooper says there's merit in having officers who can be moved to hot spots to help with emerging issues when a municipal agency needs help.

"I can see where if we needed additional resources for a short period of time to address that emerging issue that it [the marshal's service, might be useful. I know that in Saskatchewan last year it occurred in Prince Albert where they had a bunch of violence and they needed additional resources," he said.

"The province's response was to provide some of our provincially funded resources to Prince Albert and so maybe that's the model that they're looking at."

But Cooper cannot imagine a police agency simply coming into Saskatoon without some consultation.

"I doubt that that would occur simply because there's some really clear jurisdictional boundaries around who's responsible for what," he said.

Even with a marshals service, Cooper says, Saskatoon police will remain the lead agency in the city: "It absolutely is. Absolutely."