Saskatchewan’s independent police oversight body to start operating Jan. 1

Saskatchewan’s independent police oversight body to start operating Jan. 1

The Saskatchewan Police Oversight Agency will take effect in the new year, according to a Dec. 7 provincial cabinet order.

The launch of the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) has been pushed back from the government’s original target of autumn 2021. The team will investigate any death or serious injury involving police, including on-duty and off-duty municipal and RCMP officers.

A spokesman for Saskatchewan’s Integrated Justice Services wrote in an email that four investigators have now been hired and that the law “will allow SIRT to conduct investigations into serious incidents” and will go into effect on January 1.

Little information has been provided about the team other than the appointment of Gregory Gudelot as civilian executive director in June 2021. Saskatchewan is the last province in western Canada to establish an independent police regulator.

However, the body has already functioned to a limited extent.

Following the death of Myles Sanderson – the prime suspect in the mass stabbings at James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, Sask. who died in RCMP custody in September – the Saskatoon Police Service said it would lead the investigation “in cooperation” with SIRT.

When fully operational, SIRT will be responsible for investigating allegations of sexual assault, serious injury, death or interpersonal violence resulting from the actions of police officers.

In his capacity as civilian executive director, Gudelot — an attorney who was previously associate executive director of the Alberta SIRT — will appoint staff investigators to conduct investigations. If the victim of an incident is an aboriginal person, the director must appoint a community liaison who is of aboriginal or Métis descent.

Sask. Stabbing suspect took pills before dying in custody: sources

Multiple sources told CBC News that Myles Sanderson, the man arrested in a series of deadly stabbings in Saskatchewan, died after taking pills shortly before his arrest. The Saskatchewan Chief Medical Examiner has also ordered a separate public inquiry into the victims’ deaths.

Summary reports of the SIRT investigations will be made public, the government said.

The Saskatchewan government is also in the process of establishing its own 70-person police force, the Saskatchewan Marshal Service. It is scheduled to go into operation in 2026.

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