The Saskatoon board of police commissioners will expand in 2018

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, September 22nd, 2017

Saskatoon’s board of police commissioners is expected to grow in the coming months, adding two at-large members early in the new year.

Chair Darlene Brander said the new citizen positions will help the board fulfil its objectives.

“Part of our mandate is to be a conduit between the community and the police service and with the two additional members-at-large, we’ll be able to strengthen that ability,” she said.

Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill, who sits on the board and has advocated for more citizen representation at the table, said a presentation by Brander and police board member Carolanne Inglis-McQuay to the city’s governance and priorities committee helped push the change forward.

Mayor Charlie Clark, who also sits on the police board, said the time is right to expand.

“It’s a good time to add two more voices, two more sets of experience and backgrounds to the table,” he said, noting a better balance between elected and non-elected board members will help ensure the board does not become politicized.

“We’re looking forward to getting some talented, experienced (and) wise folks around the table,” he said.

The bylaw change comes into effect on Jan. 1.

-Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Saskatoon police service review will be under wraps until a new chief is hired

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, September 22nd, 2017

An operational review of Saskatoon’s police service is complete, but it won’t be made public until a new chief of police is selected. 

At a board of police commissioners meeting on Thursday, commission chair Darlene Brander said it’s important for the new chief to review the information.

“With the board deferring the release of the operational review, it gives the new police chief the ability to come on board and prioritize those recommendations,” she said.

Brander said the board wants to ensure the hiring of the new chief isn’t influenced by the report. Releasing the results of the review to the acting chief to determine recommendation priorities could create an “unfair playing field,” she said. 

While it’s “disappointing” that police commission members and the public will wait longer to find out what the review found, it’s important for the board to get the timing right, Brander added.

The review, expected to cost about $200,000, delved into several aspects of the police service, from staff levels to spending.

Acting police chief Mark Chatterbok said he has “no concerns” about waiting to make the review public.

“The operational review is owned by the board of police commissioners,” he said. “It happens to apply to us as the Saskatoon Police Service, so it’s certainly within their purview to determine when to deal with the matter publicly.”

Mayor Charlie Clark, who also sits on the board, agreed with Brander’s remarks that delaying the report would not be ideal, but said it would be premature to release it now.

“Without that clarity about who the next chief is, the ability to meaningfully implement the recommendations will not be in place … So it will become one of those documents that shapes and informs the new police chief’s role and direction,” he said. 

“I think in order to allow for these other processes to occur, it makes the most sense to wait.” 

Chief Clive Weighill, who announced his retirement in late June, marks his last official day on Oct. 6. Selection of a new chief is not expected to be finalized until early 2018.

-Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Saskatoon Police Chief Recruitment Underway

Saskatoon Police Chief Recruitment Underway “Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners Directing Recruitment Process”

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners announced today that the campaign to recruit, select and hire a new Chief of Police for Saskatoon has already commenced.

Commission Chair Darlene Brander said, “The Police Commission will again be undertaking all of the required steps and overseeing all aspects of the recruitment campaign, just as it did in 2006 when it successfully recruited and hired Chief Weighill.”

Commission Chair Brander added that the Commissioners were in full agreement, from the outset, that the Commission would direct the recruitment campaign in order to ensure that the attributes in a Police Chief that clearly matter to the community are front and centre in the process.

“We have listened carefully, and heard very clearly, just how important the Police Chief is as a leader in our city, helping to build confidence and a sense of safety for the whole community. We have also heard how important it is that the Commission recruits a new Chief of Police who will continue the relationship building within the community and who continues to fully engage all members of the Saskatoon Police Service,” stated Commission Chair Brander.

With its recruitment campaign now underway, the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners expects that once the application period closes on Friday, October 6, the interview and reference check process will occur shortly thereafter. The Commission expects that the new Police Chief will be in place in the first quarter of 2018.

Information for applicants is available on the Police Commission website at

Commission Chair Brander concluded, “We are working our way through this recruitment and hiring process in a very deliberate and careful manner. We fully understand this decision is an important one to people in Saskatoon and we are also very cognizant of citizens’ expectations of building on the leadership success that has been achieved over the past decade. For those reasons, the Commission will take the time required to ensure those expectations are met.”

The public is invited by the Police Commission to provide its views on the desirable attributes of a new Police Chief through a brief survey on the Commission’s website. The survey, in which responses are anonymous, can be accessed at

Contact: Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners Chair Darlene Brander through the City Clerk’s Office at 306-975-3240.

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Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners Receives Notification of Planned Retirement from Police Chief Clive Weighill

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners today received notification from Police Chief Clive Weighill that he plans to retire from his position as Chief of Police with the Saskatoon Police Service on October 1, 2017.

Police Chief Weighill notified the Police Commission of his decision at its monthly meeting on June 27, 2017.

Police Commission Chair Darlene Brander said, “The Police Commission has received and accepted the notification by Chief Weighill that he will be retiring as Police Chief as of October 1, 2017. Each of us, as Commissioners, expresses our sincere appreciation for his significant contribution to the Saskatoon Police Service, in particular, and our community in general. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners will launch the recruitment process for the Chief of Police position immediately and will implement a transition process with the Police Service until such time as Chief Weighill’s position is filled.

Police Chief Weighill said, “I wish to thank the Board of Police Commissioners, both past and present, for their support and advice during my 11 year tenure. In relation to the sworn and civilian members of the Saskatoon Police Service it would be impossible to find a better or more committed group of people to work with. I also want to thank the many community partners who I have collaborated with to make Saskatoon a safer city. Other than my marriage to Lois this has been the best 11 years of my life, but I feel the time is right to begin a new chapter.”

Commission Chair Brander added, “Given the strong national reputation that has been developed for the Saskatoon Police Service under Chief Weighill’s watch we expect that the recruitment and selection process will yield very strong candidates for the Police Chief position. Again, we thank Chief Weighill for his dedication to the Police Service and to Saskatoon. We are the better for his time at the helm of the Service.”


Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners Chair Darlene Brander through the City Clerk’s Office 306-975-3240. 

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Meth blamed for increase in Saskatoon police use of force

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, May 24, 2017

Use of force:

Some statistics on the use of force by Saskatoon police in 2016, with corresponding numbers from 2015 and 2014 in brackets:
Total incidents involving use of force: 201 (186, 144)
Gun fired by police: 8 (3, 2)
Taser used by police: 11 (17, 7)
Use of force during initial contact: 176 (92, 96)
Use of force during arrest: 118 (72, 75)
Suspects injured: 101 (60, 51)
Suspects died: One (0, 0)
Suspects needed medical attention: 83 (53, 58)
Officers injured: 14, (13, 13)

The rise of methamphetamine use in Saskatoon is driving an increase in the use of force by Saskatoon police officers, especially a spike in violent first contact, police Chief Clive Weighill says.

Weighill presented a report at Wednesday’s board of police commissioners meeting showing an increase in use of force in 2016. It has risen steadily during the past three years.

Weighill said the steady rise in use of force in response to crystal meth is happening across Western Canada.

“When you’re dealing with (suspects using meth), they’re not rational,” he told the board. “They’re violent.”

While the number of total incidents rose slightly, from 186 in 2015 to 201 in 2016, the use of force during initial contact with a suspect nearly doubled, police statistics show. Use of force incidents during initial contact jumped to 176 in 2016 from 92 in 2015.

Charges for methamphetamine possession rose from two per cent of drug possession charges in 2012 to 34 per cent in 2016, Saskatoon police statistics show. Total calls rose by about two per cent in 2016, for a total of about 77,000 calls, while use of force increased about eight per cent, Weighill said.

The board endorsed a motion by Mayor Charlie Clark to follow up on the use of force findings. Clark asked what police are learning from encounters with people addicted to or impaired by meth.

Insp. Patrick Nogier told the committee “southern exposure” — the influence of social media and news from the United States of growing encounters with police — may also play a role in the rise in violent first contact by emboldening suspects in Saskatoon.

Police fired their guns eight times in 2016, up from three in 2015 and twice in 2014. The number of suspects injured rose to 101 last year, up from 60 in 2015 and 51 in 2014. One suspect died after a confrontation with police last year, the first such death in three years.

Fourteen officers were injured in 2016, while 13 were injured in each of the two previous years.

Detention of intoxicated people in Saskatoon police cells rises

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, May 24, 2017


The number of intoxicated people held in Saskatoon police cells in each of the last five years:
2016: 1,814
2015: 1,578
2014: 1,752
2013: 1,879
2012: 2,019

The number of Saskatoon police referrals to The Lighthouse stabilization unit, which opened in 2013:
2016: 239
2015: 325
2014: 404
2013: 192
2012: 0

The number of intoxicated suspects detained in Saskatoon police cells jumped in 2016 as police referrals to The Lighthouse stabilization unit fell.

Statistics presented at Wednesday’s board of police commissioners meeting suggest a connection between the detention of intoxicated people in police cells and the decline in those admitted to The Lighthouse.

The number of intoxicated people held in Saskatoon police jail cells rose to 1,814 last year, the highest since 2013, when The Lighthouse stabilization unit first opened.

“As we’ve seen, there’s been progress made, but challenges remain,” Mayor Charlie Clark said.

The provincial government changed its formula for funding eligibility in late 2015, which resulted in The Lighthouse closing the stabilization unit during daylight hours in February 2016. That appears to have resulted in fewer police referrals to the unit: that number fell to 239 in 2016, the lowest in three years after a peak of 404 referrals in 2014.

Police referrals to the Saskatoon Health Region’s brief detoxification unit also dropped to their lowest point in three years, to 411, down from 761 in 2014.

“The brief detoxification unit, with its access to addictions treatment services, is a highly desirable alternative to holding intoxicated persons in a police service cell when possible to do so,” notes a report presented at Wednesday’s meeting.

However, the report adds, the detox unit is “too full, too early in the day” for police to use it as an alternative to police cells as often as they would like. Police see The Lighthouse stabilization unit and the brief detox unit as “preferred” destinations where addicted people can get the help they need as opposed to a police holding cell.

The community support officers program, which was launched in 2012 and often deals with intoxicated people on the street, continued to experience a steady rise in individuals served. That number rose to 2,382 in 2016 from 1,246 in 2013, its first full year of operation, the report says.

Clark said he intends to meet with the provincial ministers of justice and social services to discuss the findings in the report.

“Fortunately, they’ve shown some interest in a dialogue,” he said.

The provincial Ministry of Social Services introduced stricter rules in November 2015 that limited who was eligible for funding for The Lighthouse stabilization unit.

The Lighthouse discontinued operation of its daytime stabilization unit in February 2016 and started turning away clients in September.