Saskatoon police are trying to get to the root question of "Why?" when it comes to the city's missing persons problem

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, November 17th, 2017

A report presented to the city’s board of police commissioners Thursday indicated calls for missing people ranked second in calls for service, as police predict by year-end, 2,764 missing person reports will be generated.

Between April 1 and Sept. 30, police received 1,382 missing persons reports, 625 of which were female youth and 441 for male youth. Between the two groups, 700 were classified as “habitual runaways” which means they’ve been reported missing two times or more.

In one instance, one female youth generated 40 missing person reports, with two male youth generating 50 and 49 calls respectively. In the same time frame, adults accounted for 312 missing person reports and “very rarely” fall under the definition of habitual.

City police are trying to address the issue by working with community organizations like EGADZ through its Operation Runway program.

An interagency-community partnership initiated by EGADZ, the program offers youth a chance to attend support circles where they can talk about why they run with youth mentors, constables from the SPS missing persons unit and community elders.

Since its launch in the spring, 29 of the circles have been held.

“By getting some of these youth to tell us why they’re going missing, we’re going to be able to reduce the numbers,” said Det. Insp. Russ Friesen with the Saskatoon Police Service investigative services. 

“If we can find out why they’re running, we might be able to help them with some tools that can better where they are, and make them more satisfied so they’re not always running away.”

Friesen said during the last 10 years, the service has “upped” its response to missing person cases and as part of a now complete pilot program launched earlier this year, select officers within a platoon are designated to work exclusively on missing persons cases once a report comes in.

The goal is to have these officers become experts in missing person cases — knowing where a person might go when they run, or what they might do — enabling them to locate them as soon as possible before a case is handed over to the missing persons unit.

This allows police to find people faster and provides more investigative avenues for the missing persons unit if a case is passed along after a four-day period, while providing officers with in-depth investigative experience in the process.

The Board of Police Commissioners will also be forwarding the report and what’s being done to address the issue to Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Social Services.

Darlene Brander, chair of the Board of Police Commissioners, said stakeholders at all levels of government need to be involved.

“It’s a bigger issue than just Saskatoon,” she said.

“Runaways is just not a police issue. It’s a social issue. The more that we share that (information) with the province and within the community, it helps go toward solving that issue. It won’t solve it completely, but it will work toward at least bringing down those numbers.”

Mark Chatterbok, interim chief of the Saskatoon Police Service, said proactive work around missing persons is important, as the sooner police can identify why a person may be running, the quicker they can intervene with a potential solution and prevent it from occurring again in the future.

“Prevention is obviously the key to this,” he said.

In the previous six month period, police received a total of 1,229 between Oct. 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 and the SPS is currently investigating 14 long-term missing person cases ranging in length from two years to several decades.

—By Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Saskatoon Police Service is hoping to make a sky-high investment that it calculates would save the city almost $1 million

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, November 17th, 2017

On Thursday, a report tabled at the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners detailed how the Saskatoon Police Service is asking city council for $800,000 to purchase a new plane for its air support unit. The service’s lease on its current unit, a Cessna 182, is set to expire in March 2018.

While a full breakdown of cost savings was not included in the report, savings to the Saskatoon taxpayer are estimated at $945,000 over the next 10 years.

“We want to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money,” said Darlene Brander, chair of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners.

“When we see efforts being made by the Saskatoon Police Service to ensure that they are investing with the future in mind — and wisely — we want to make sure that we support that.”

The police service examined the possibility of extending the existing lease, issuing a request for proposals for a new aircraft lease or issuing proposals for an aircraft purchase. It determined the “clear course of action” is to purchase a plane, choosing the Cessna 182T, which is almost identical to its current leased model.

Working with the City of Saskatoon purchasing department, the SPS will issue a number of proposals, including, but not limited to, the purchase of the plane, the rental of a secure hangar, office space and the establishment of a maintenance contract alongside a fuel purchasing contract.

The report indicated the air support unit has had a positive impact on policing in Saskatoon. When the air support unit is in the air during an evade police event, for example, police have a success rate of almost 100 per cent in stopping the vehicle of interest and laying charges. That compares to a success rate of 23 per cent when the plane is not in the air because 77 per cent of the time, pursuits are terminated due to safety concerns.

Interim chief of police Mark Chatterbok said the SPS selected an “almost identical” model of plane because it will allow the police service to retrofit its current equipment for the new aircraft.

“One of the things we’re constantly doing is we’re trying to find new and unique ways to deliver our service for less money,” he said.

The report has been relayed to city council for discussion and, if approved, the new plane could be fully operational in the third quarter of 2018.

—By Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

An organization advocating for animal rights in Saskatchewan is asking the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners...

An organization advocating for animal rights in Saskatchewan is asking the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners to take into consideration the link between domestic abuse and animal abuse as its members search for a new police chief

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, November 17th, 2017

The board started searching for a new police chief after long-time former chief Clive Weighill announced his retirement and marked his last day with the service on Oct. 6.

Frances Wach, executive director of the Saskatchewan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said the connection between the two forms of violence should be understood by the new chief, pointing to research carried out by Dr. Phil Arkow of the National Link Coalition, which examines the link between domestic and animal abuse.

“It’s important for the police service to be aware of all forms of violence,” said Wach.

Quoting Arkow, she explained: “When animals are being abused, people are at risk and when people are being abused, animals are at risk.”

The letter, which was presented at Thursday’s board meeting, notes having a police chief with “knowledge and familiarity” of the connection between these forms of violence could make Saskatoon a leader in preventing animal cruelty and interpersonal violence.

“It’s important for human-service organizations and animal-welfare organizations to work together,” she said of the correlation. “From the Saskatchewan SPCA’s point-of-view, it is important and I would hope they might incorporate a question on the link in their interviewing process.”

Interim police chief Mark Chatterbok said the number of animal cruelty complaints that come into the service are “relatively low,” but said he’d like more information before commenting further.

However, when asked if there’s a possibility police officers may be trained in identifying the signs of animal abuse, he said it’s something that might be considered. 

“We have all sorts of training that’s provided to us from other community partners and this is perhaps one area that we can look at for something down the road,” he said.

Darlene Brander, chair of the Board of Police Commissioners, thanked Wach for her submission.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, she said the board is “really pleased to see that there’s such active participation from the community in regards to sending information forward to us.

“We’ve got some good information from the SPCA … there’s a link between animal abuse and domestic violence and that’s something that we want our next police chief to know,” she said.

However, when asked if the the Saskatoon Police Service would be open to forming a partnership between animal control and police to investigate the potential link, she said it would be a decision for the incoming chief to make.

—By Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Saskatoon Police Chief Recruitment on Schedule

Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners Highly Satisfied with Quality of Applicants

The Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners today provided a brief update on the recruitment, selection and hiring of a new Chief of Police for Saskatoon.

Commission Chair Darlene Brander said, “The Saskatoon Police Commission is extremely pleased with the quality of applicants that the Saskatoon Police Chief recruitment campaign has attracted. It was our expectation, from the outset, that the strong reputation that has been developed by the Saskatoon Police Service would serve to attract highly qualified candidates. Our expectation has certainly been met.”

Added Commissioner Brander, “The schedule developed by the Board of Police Commissioners during the summer when it established its recruitment, selection and hiring plan is 100% on track and on schedule. The Police Commission remains committed to working its way through the process in a very deliberate and careful manner, given that this decision is one that is important to people in Saskatoon.”

The level of community interest was typified by the strong response received when the Commission launched a public survey in September in which residents were asked questions about the attributes of a Police Chief that matter most to them. The 229 responses were reviewed by the Commissioners prior to finalizing the evaluation grid with which the Commissioners assessed applications.

As is standard in the human resources industry, and to fully respect the privacy rights of applicants, the Police Commission will not be identifying the number, source, or location of applicants.

With the recruitment process being right on schedule, the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners remains confident it will have a new Police Chief in place in the first quarter of 2018, as stated at the time of the recruitment launch in early September.

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

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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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