Island First Nation policing receives crime fighting tech funds

ONTARIO—Both the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishinaabe Police Service (UCCM APS) and the Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service (WTPS) are among those First Nations policing services to receive funding from the provincial government for crime-fighting technology.

The Ontario government is providing more than $6 million to help First Nation’s police services better protect their communities. The investment is part of the province’s First Nations Policing Modernization Initiative, and will be used to purchase new technology, including mobile workstations, body cameras and automated license plate readers.

UCCM APS is to receive $223,011 in funding with the WTPS receiving a total of $194,000.
Scott Cooper, acting chief of police for Wikwemikong Tribal Police Services told The Expositor the funding, “is a good step moving forward as it is a commitment to us of four to five years funding to implement this technology. And it is a government response to recognize First Nations policing as an essential service.”

“There are still ongoing negotiations (with the government) and this is a small part of the policing services that we provide and allows us to evolve and become more engaged in the community,” said Chief of Police Cooper.

“First Nations police services need modern equipment to keep their communities safe,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “This (funding) initiative will provide police officers and personnel with the tools they need to fight crime effectively and efficiently while in the field and connected to a local command network.”

The funding will be used to undertake modernization work, including mobile workstations-an information technology suite of equipment embedded within a police vehicle for mobile/remote access to records management system databases, the Canadian Police Information Centre, and police services internal servers; infrared technologies-thermal imaging cameras are an investigative tool to assist in suspect apprehension, evidence gathering and search and rescue operations by detecting heat radiation of persons or objects; live scan machines, which support the process of capturing fingerprints electronically and can be shared immediately with police services across the country, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; body-worn cameras-devices that record interactions between community members (e.g., the public, suspects, and victims) and law enforcement officers; in-car cameras-capable of recoding all interactions between police and the public, including traffic stops and rear seat prisoner transportation; automated licence plate readers, a system of cameras and supporting software that captures licence plate information and immediately compares plate numbers to a Ministry of Transportation database with vehicle and vehicle owner information.

Staff Sergeant Cooper noted, “it allows us to procure this technology equipment to assist with the services we are providing. This includes two streams, such as having computers in cars, and body worn cameras, and automated licence plate readers. This technology can also be used in other ways to help educate members of the public.”

“But there is also the element of transportative policing to follow the rules that need to be followed in balance with the values of the community,” continued Chief of Police Cooper. “It is an important step towards providing essential police services. It’s also part of the goal of having the government deeming First Nations policing services as an essential service and providing some of the tools that reach toward that.”

“As we look to modernize law enforcement across the province, it is critical that we support First Nations police services,” said Greg Rickford, minister of Indigenous Affairs. “These targeted investments will enhance efficiency and give officers the tools they need to serve their communities and remain safe on the job.”

A total of nine First Nations police services and 18 First Nation communities who have policing administered by the Ontario Provincial Police under the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program will receive the funding.