Facing complaints of racism from the family of a slain aboriginal teenager, Calgary police are defending their qualifications for dealing with minority groups.
Colton Crowshoe, 18, was found dead in a water retention pond in northeast Calgary on Thursday afternoon after being reported missing on July 4. The homicide unit is investigating.
Crowshoe’s family members say police officers didn't take their initial reports of his disappearance seriously and dismissed their pleas for help.
On Tuesday, CBC News confirmed that Crowshoe was charged with trespassing at night and break-and-enter on July 2.
Crowshoe's family fears his run-in with the law might have played a role in police delaying efforts to find him.
Danielle Crowshoe says there is a lot of anger in the aboriginal community about the death of her nephew Colton.
"Requests for assistance are often ignored and downplayed, as in this case with my nephew,” she said.
Lawyer Andre Ouellette says it is a common complaint.
"There seems to be a systemic issue in the way native issues and justice are dealt with,” he said.
But acting Sgt. Gary Woods says new recruits with the Calgary Police Service receive 10 hours of mandatory diversity training.
"After training they have an opportunity to take a one-week, 40-hour diversity course,” he said.
"We bring in elders, guest speakers, from those communities. All that in an effort to increase the officer's cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity."
The force tries to take a proactive approach in dealing with the many racially diverse communities that make up the city, Woods said.
On Tuesday morning, the Calgary Police issued a statement about the family's concerns.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Crowshoe family, but we will not address or comment on these allegations through the media or in a public forum. Our focus remains on the homicide investigation and in bringing the person(s) responsible for Colton's death to justice.
Should any member of the public have a concern or complaint relating to the actions of any member of the Calgary Police Service, a formal process exists to do so, and those matters will be investigated under the provisions outlined in the Alberta Police Act."