Blood tribe police ask for support.
A dispute between the Blood Tribe police and a group of concerned citizens seems well on its way to resolution, after two weeks of meetings. Police Chief Wayne Hamby met again with protesters Jan. 19th, to iron out problems that have arisen on the reserve.
Local residents say the problems are long standing, but public awareness first came to light on Dec. 30th, when a group of citizens held a protest march outside police headquarters in Stand Off. More than a dozen people, some carrying placards, aired their complaints about poor quality investigations and other, more personal, problems.
Hamby asked for a meeting with representatives of the group and a few days to do his own investigations and put together a written response. He met with the group again Jan. 4th, and has since then seen them several times.
"The talks have really helped. What people didn't realize is that we don't have a case if we don't have any witnesses. The community here is reluctant to come forth to help the police and give testimony, so we're often left with our hands tied," he said.
Two of the complaints - one an assault and one a murder - involved cases thrown out of court for lack of evidence.
Hamby also noted that RCMP on the reserve have the same problem getting people to come forward, and in fact, some of the difficulties the group have complained about have been RCMP cases.
"Support is needed for all the police, whether it's our force or the RCMP," Hamby noted. "It's been good to have this open discussion with the community, and I think both sides are making progress."
Hamby noted that this police force doesn't have the same training as the RCMP, but they do go through a rigorous 16-weeks of additional field training before working on their own. He also noted that several of his force have also received specialized training. "We're always working to improve our skills."
"We're still looking into some of the occurences the group mentioned," Hamby added.
Many of the problems occur in the small community of Moses Lake, at the very end of the reserve, the largest in Canada. Moses Lake borders the town of Cardston, which is policed by the RCMP.
"It takes too long for the Blood police to get here from Stand off," one protestor said. "If nothing else, the RCMP should police Moses Lake and let the tribal police look after the rest of the reserve."
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|Date:||Feb 1, 1996|
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