Thunder Bay police chief responds to First Nations' concerns
Officers 'walking on eggshells', Chief J.P. Levesque says
Posted: Feb 1, 2013 8:24 AM ET
Last Updated: Feb 1, 2013 10:48 AM ET
Thunder Bay's Police Chief says the police service is making efforts to improve its strained relationship with Aboriginal people in the city.
J.P. Levesque said things started to get more difficult in September after First Nations filed a human rights complaint against police. The complaint is still before the Human Rights Tribunal.
Meanwhile, Levesque said information being distributed through social media is contributing to the problem.
“Somebody has an innocuous encounter with police and all of a sudden it's on a social media website and it turns into something it's not,” he said.Thunder Bay Police Chief JP Levesque says the service is working to improve relations with the First Nations community. (CBC)
“So I think, in some cases, we're seeing misinformation leading to mistrust.”
'Cell phones being taken out'
Levesque added there's been a shift in the way some First Nations people are interacting with his officers.
“When we are interacting with Aboriginals, cell phones are being taken out and things of that nature,” he said.
“Our officers are walking on eggshells to some degree.”
But he said that isn't detracting from his officers' ability to do their job.
As well, some people have been critical of the way police are handling the investigation into the sexual assault of a First Nations woman.
Levesque says he's working with First Nations leaders and Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services to help re-build trust.
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