After 16 months of waiting, the Saskatchewan Police Commission has released its report on the past turmoil within the Estevan Police Service.
When the police commission announced last year it would investigate workplace concerns within the EPS workplace culture – including health and well-being supports for police officers, the role and responsibilities of the chief of police and the Estevan board of police commissioners, and what effect these factors may have on the quality of policing in Estevan – it attracted a lot of people’s attention. Such inquiries are rare.
It was no secret that there had been a lot of discontent with former chief Paul Ladouceur, who had already stepped down by the time the inquiry was announced. The acrimony became public late in his tenure, following the death of Const. Jay Pierson last spring, but concerns about the executive management of the EPS had persisted for years.
Those working on the report had a lot to delve into, not just when it came to Pierson, but the years of discontent among the members towards the executive management. This report ultimately reaffirmed what a lot of us already knew, although in greater detail, while providing some new information and looking at how things have changed.
It would be easy to ask why this report took 16 months to complete and release, but at 50 pages in length, and with numerous follow-up interviews and other investigative work, you can see why that much time was needed. It was a lengthy, comprehensive process with lots of questions to be asked and findings to be compiled.
A lot has changed since the inquiry was announced, but the process was worthwhile.
If you do have time to read the document, it’s well worth the effort.
Once it was finished, the report had to be released. It couldn’t sit on a shelf collecting dust in Regina, with only the EPS and the Estevan board of police commissioners aware of its contents, even if a lot has changed.
You might not like what’s inside – Mayor Roy Ludwig expressed his disappointment with the contents – but this wasn’t a report loaded with shocking revelations. And it’s not a full-fledged hatchet job, either. While you find criticisms of Ladouceur and the police board of the day, it also notes some of the positives that Ladouceur accomplished during his tenure, and some of the positive steps the police board has taken.
It was also noted during a press conference Thursday that there are elements of a good-news story here, because change is already starting to happen and morale among the officers is much better. The relationship with Police Chief Rich Lowen, who arrived in September 2021, is much better. And, obviously, there are always things that can be done to improve.
An audit is planned for 2023 on the progress that has been made within the Estevan Police Service and its interactions with the police board and executive management. We’re certainly looking forward to seeing those findings, and we hope that the audit will be released to the public.
The police chief, and, by extension, the deputy police chief, have a difficult task. Their background is policing. They understand the difficulties of the job.
They have to worry about budgets, management, discipline and interacting with the police board. But they also need to have the back of the officers and the civilian employees. And the members need to believe they have the support of management.
It’s a balancing act for the top person, or the top two people, in a police agency.
The situation between the different parties in this report seems to be much better than it was 18 months ago. And hopefully it will be better a year from now. When morale is higher with the police, they’ll be better at their job, and when that happens, our community as a whole will be better served.