Thunder Bay Police Respond to NAN Statements
THUNDER BAY – Legal – Thunder Bay Police Service have issued a statement following the press conference yesterday by Nishnawbe-Aski Nation.
Here is the text of the TBPS Statement
“Two families are dealing with unthinkable sadness and pain. The tragic death of Tammy Keeash and the disappearance of Josiah Begg have deeply impacted all of us. Today, the ongoing efforts of police, volunteers and members of the community are focused on locating Josiah.
“The men and women of the Thunder Bay Police Service are standing with these families and are doing everything in their power to find answers and provide support during this sad time. Investigators have been in daily contact with Josiah’s family. We are very appreciative of the support provided by the volunteers who have come out each day to help.
“We will continue to provide updates to the public as to the progress of the search for Josiah. The family is our priority and our first point of contact. As stated before, any help or information from the public is welcomed and encouraged.
“These investigations have been extensive. The members of our service are emotionally and professionally invested in finding answers for the families. We are parents, sons and daughters. The commitment is strong.
“This is not the time for pointing fingers. It is the time to join hands and work towards our common goals of finding answers. Together, we can make that happen”.
Joint Inquest (Deaths of 7 First Nation Youths) Recommendations
Thunder Bay Police Service Efforts as of May 2017:
Recommendation 91 includes NAN, City of Thunder Bay, TBPS, NAPS, NNEC, KO, DFC and MLC as being responsible for the formation of a working group to discuss best practices applicable to their respective roles pertaining to students from remote First Nations communities attending secondary school in Thunder Bay.
Chief Levesque was the first leader to initiate contact with all involved parties in September 2016 to ensure that the inquest recommendations would be addressed. Since that time, the TBPS has met separately with the named parties to discuss the 13 subsections of recommendation 91. We have moved forward on a number of initiatives to address these recommendations which are in place today.
There are 8 named parties for this working group which includes a number of educational organizations. The key to being able to effectively address recommendation 91 is to have all parties involved in a coordinated effort. As of Friday May 5, 2017, an inquest coordinator from NAN was designated to bring all of the named parties together to address all of the subsections of inquest recommendation 91.
The Thunder Bay Police Service efforts to date include:
Public awareness of Missing Person report procedures are available on the TBPS website http://www.thunderbaypolice.ca/missing-persons
Changes were made to our missing person policy prior to the inquest. Since this is an operational policy, we continue to review and revise as appropriate. Officers have been provided up to date training on these procedures.
The TBPS is working with Matawa, DFC, KO, and NNEC on missing persons’ protocols and contact information for their on-call workers. The Police Service has requested a set list of descriptors and identifiers for all students attending Thunder Bay from Northern First Nations Communities.
The TBPS utilizes social media as one of the many tools used in missing person investigations.
Press releases are created by the TBPS in consideration of the specific circumstances of each individual investigation. The working group still needs to consider best practices for media releases.
NAN Legal Services has been utilized as a liaison to assist persons who have challenges or fears in their dealings with police.
Walk a Mile training continues for members of the TBPS. Over 80% of our members have received this training.
The TBPS Training Unit provides the Police Services Board with an annual report summarizing training undertaken by our members.
The TBPS provided personal safety training to members of the Bear Clan Patrol (a NAN initiative) which is a citizen’s group that conducts foot patrols to promote safety within the Indigenous community.
Since the fall of 2016, the TBPS conducts focused daily foot patrols along city waterways and recreational trails which have been previously identified as high risk areas.
The TBPS has collaborated with the City of Thunder Bay’s Safety Audit Committee. Three safety audits have commenced this week (May 15, 2017). These will look at 3 high risk areas near city waterways and provide recommendations for improvements to public safety.
The TBPS and the LCBO have formed a working task force to look at the issue of “runners” who are second party purchasers and are providing alcohol to minors.
The TBPS has partnered with NAPS, Matawa, DFC and NNEC to fly officers to northern First Nation communities to provide insights to students as they make the transition to an urban community.
The TBPS is providing advice and guidance to the 211 call reporting group. This initiative will assist members of the public to report incidents of racism in Thunder Bay.
The Thunder Bay Police Service is committed to moving forward with all involved parties in addressing these recommendations.