Police services in Windsor as well as Kettle and Stony Point First Nation are coming together to create a training program that would benefit both forces.
Windsor Police Service (WPS) Chief Jason Bellaire led a four-person delegation that travelled to Kettle and Stony Point First Nation on Wednesday to meet with leaders of the Anishinabek Police Service (APS) to discuss the collaboration.
"A lot of police services across the province have joint force-training initiatives," WPS Insp. Ed Armstrong, who was part of the delegation, told Windsor Morning host Nav Nanwa.
"The interesting thing about this one is the cultural fluency it brings. Chief Bellaire had said in an interview that we as a service were looking at new ways to bolster our cultural understanding and strengthen our relationship with marginalized communities. This is one way of doing it training-wise."
LISTEN: Anishinabek police Chief Jeff Skye and Windsor police Insp. Ed Armstrong on their new partnership
According to Armstrong, APS Insp. Mark LeSage will travel to Windsor on Wednesday to meet once again with WPS senior leaders and give a presentation on Indigenous policing to recent graduates of the Ontario Police College.
APS Chief Jeff Skye wants members of both services to learn from each other as part of the initiative.
"There's a big difference in how we police our communities," Skye told Nanwa. "Most of the elderly people attended residential schools and most of us now have been educated more and more on the residential schools and the trauma that has faced Indigenous people by attending these residential schools, but also the intergenerational trauma that's affected the people younger than them."
Skye said that trauma has resulted in high crime severity indexes in Indigenous policing across Canada, saying Indigenous rates are three-to-four times higher than municipal, provincial and federal police services. In May 2019, the Department of Justice said that Indigenous people are overrepresented in Canada's criminal justice system as both victims and as people accused or convicted of crime.
As part of the program, WPS and APS officers will be serving in each other's communities.
"I strongly support both services sharing our resources and each of our police services and going out on patrol and doing things," Chief Skye said. "It is a lot different from my perspective to police in Windsor and the Windsor Police Service coming to a more rural area."
Armstrong said that it is never wrong to have enough training, adding that representatives from other communities will be educating Windsor police officers.
"We have people from our Black community coming in, our Middle Eastern community and the LGBTQ community coming in to speak to our officers," he said. "It is important for us to have that cultural fluency and awareness for the population that we please."