Recently, a news organization has released a video from January 2018 that involves the detention of a young Indigenous woman under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act (IPDA) by the City’s Community Safety Officers (CSOs) in the local RCMP cells.
As the case is currently before the courts, we cannot release all of the details, but we want to provide you with an update on the latest information and the actions that have been taken.
Though the altercation happened in January 2018, neither the Mayor’s office nor City Manager’s office was informed of what had transpired until seven months later, in August 2018, when Manitoba Justice reached out to Thompson’s Director of Fire and Public Safety at the time. In turn, he reached out to the RCMP to get an update. The CSO was cleared by RCMP’s Use of Force Expert at the time, and no disciplinary action was taken.
A copy of the security footage was not provided to the city by the RCMP, and the current administration is viewing parts of this footage for the first time. Once the City receives a copy of the full video through the court process, the City will review the footage to determine our next steps.
Since the incident, the following changes to the CSO program have been implemented:
- As of May 2020, supervision of CSO’s has returned to a dedicated Public Safety Manager to ensure proper oversight, and that the mandated training, which includes use of force and cultural proficiency training, is adhered to;
- When use-of-force incidents occur in the future, the City has asked the RCMP to immediately notify the City of Thompson’s Public Safety Manager and City Manager;
- The City Manager, in consultation with the Public Safety Manager and HR, will conduct an investigation.
There has been significant change-over at the City of Thompson since the incident, both in administration and among Mayor and Council. Since the turn-over at the end of 2018, administration and City Council quickly recognized that the previous approach to public safety was not working.
Since February 2020, the City of Thompson, the Province of Manitoba, and 20 different community organizations have been working together to create an all-encompassing public safety strategy, with the help of independent consultants Community Safety and Knowledge Alliance. This includes representatives from education, social services, healthcare, addictions treatment, and Indigenous government organizations. Reducing the role of conventional law enforcement in addressing mental health and intoxication is a top priority of this strategy.
Supporting this strategy is the announcement of a new $2.8 million sobering center last June. This center will provide 24/7 safe and secure space where non-violent, intoxicated people can stay until they sober up under trained supervision, independent from law enforcement. This will help reduce the involvement of law enforcement in the care of intoxicated individuals, as well as help connect clients with wrap-around social services who can help them address addictions.
The City of Thompson commissioned a Community Safety and Well-being Strategy, and from that, we have now identified our strategic priorities, including:
- Lessen youth exposure to crimes as victims, witnesses, and perpetrators;
- Lessen the frequency and burden of problematic alcohol use on individuals and the community;
- Reduce factors driving the demand on policing resources from social disorder calls;
- Enhance experiences of social inclusion and Justice and reduce systemic and other forms of racism;
- Expand safe and attainable shelter and housing options for people experiencing vulnerabilities;
- Renew and better maintain the environment in Thompson to improve how people can connect to strengthen social cohesion.
The City of Thompson is committed to working with all of our stakeholders in the community to follow through on all of these initiatives that, in turn, will make for a better community for all of us.
As Mayor Smook has stated before, “We need to recognize that we are working to fix issues over three decades in the making, but with a sustained, committed effort, we will see a safer, healthier Thompson.”