Security guard program teaches de-escalation, tactical techniques to First Nations in Sask.

Joel Pedersen said he saw a need and developed a program that was then approved by the Ministry of Justice.

Joel Pedersen said he saw a need and developed a program that was then approved by the Ministry of Justice

Participants in a security guard course at Stony Rapids posed for a picture while wearing masks due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Submitted by Joel Pedersen)

A former Saskatoon police officer is giving First Nations communities security guard training to help with gaining opportunities and life skills. 

Joel Pedersen is the owner of 2J2 Fitness, and had been a police officer for more than 20 years. As part of his fitness business, he travels to a variety of Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. 

While working with some community members, he saw a need for more trained security guards in the area. 

"It's an opportunity for Indigenous communities to be empowered by having qualified security officers to do the jobs they're doing," he said. 

Pedersen put together the plan and it was approved by the Ministry of Justice for the Government of Saskatchewan. He has now begun offering his Private Investigator and Security Guard course, which includes 80 hours of training.

"It's regulated by the Security Guards Act and in the course it outlines things that an individual would have to be required to do to fulfil their job duties. Everything from understanding the basic law into actual procedures," Pedersen said. 

It teaches tactics and techniques including: use of force, tactical communication, de-escalation techniques, decision making and ethical intervention. 

One example of people who could benefit from the course is those working at COVID-19 checkpoints in First Nations communities, he said. 

"A lot of these officers that are now being certified, are now trained to understand not only the legitimacy of law but also to understand there's certain things you can and cannot do. But [it] also provides them the tactics and techniques in order to deal with people."

Pedersen said jobs like those at checkpoints are vital and important. He said the skills learned in the course may transfer well to other jobs in the future as well. 

The course has been taught at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge and in Stony Rapids in northern Saskatchewan. Pedersen, who is Dene and currently lives in Saskatoon, has more training lined up in the File Hills First Nation area in southern Saskatchewan in September. 

Program not replacing police but bridging the gap: Pedersen 

Pedersen said it's important to train Indigenous peoples in these skills because those tangible skill sets are missing in some cases. Pedersen said his program is not meant to replace police and he isn't supportive of de-funding the police service on a personal level. 

"That is truly needed in our communities and within our society," he said. 

Pedersen said he believes the Saskatoon Police Service has done well in working with Indigenous communities and he's seen a lot of changes over the years. He said while working in communities in Saskatchewan's north, he's also spoken to RCMP and had frank conversations with them about the challenges they face. 

"This particular program, we found it a really important bridging piece."

With files from Saskatoon Morning