On January 1, The Police (Serious Incident Response Team) Amendment Act, 2021 came into force, which formally establishes a serious incident response team (SIRT) in Saskatchewan.
“These changes will allow the SIRT to engage in any serious incident involving police, from initiating a full investigation to reviewing, overseeing, assisting or delegating one,” Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. “The Act coming into force completes the transition to a civilian-led, independent police oversight body and brings Saskatchewan’s police oversight regime into line with most other Canadian jurisdictions.”
Acting under the Civilian Executive Director, SIRT members will investigate matters where serious injury or death may have occurred while in the custody of police, as a result of the actions of a police officer, or where sexual assault or interpersonal violence involving police are alleged. Other investigations may also be conducted where the Executive Director believes they are in the public interest. SIRT can also assume conduct of an ongoing investigation at any stage.
“The people of Saskatchewan rightly hold their police officers to a high standard,” Public Complaints Commission Executive Director Greg Gudelot said. “A fully-operational SIRT ensures that serious incidents involving Saskatchewan police will be investigated through an independent and transparent process designed to ensure a fair and high-quality investigation for all those involved.”
SIRT investigations will apply to municipal police officers and RCMP operating in Saskatchewan, as well as certain prescribed classes of special constables, such as Highway Traffic Patrol and Conservation officers.
The legislation also requires SIRT to include Indigenous representation by appointing a First Nations or Métis community liaison officer in matters where the individual involved is of First Nations or Métis ancestry. Appointed liaisons can provide assistance to the Executive Director in a variety of forms throughout the investigation. The Executive Director has the discretion to appoint a community liaison in all other matters.
Summaries of SIRT investigations will be published online to ensure transparency in the investigation process and provide the public with informative results.