A new year means some new regulations for the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) in Saskatchewan when looking into serious incidents.
The changes are a result of the Police Serious Incident Response Team Amendment Act, 2021, coming into force as of January 1, 2023.
These changes will enable an expansion of operational capability for the SIRT. The goal is to better enable its ability to engage in any serious incident involving local police.
Meaning that they will be able to intervene and begin initiating full investigations, reviewing, overseeing, assisting or deligating one when local police are involved during incidents that require their intervention.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Bronwyn Eyre, announced these changes in a media release.
"The Act coming into force completes the transition to a civilian-led, independent police oversight body," said Eyre. "And brings Saskatchewan's police oversight regime into line with most other Canadian jurisdictions."
While acting under the Civilian Executive Director, SIRT members will investigate matters where serious injury or death possibly occurred during police custody, as a result of police officer actions, or where sexual assault or interpersonal violence involving police are alleged.
Other investigations may be conducted where the Executive Director believes they are in the public's best interest.
A big factor is that these changes will enable SIRT to take over an ongoing investigation at any point.
Public Complaints Executive Director, Greg Gudelot, commented on how the people of Saskatchewan hold their police officers to a high standard.
"A fully-operational SIRT ensures that serious incidents involving Saskatchewan police will be investigated through an independent and transparent process," said Gudelot. "Designed to ensure a fair and high-quality investigation for all those involved."
Affected parties who may fall under SIRT investigations include municipal police and RCMP in Saskatchewan, along with certain prescribed classes of special constables, like Highway Traffic Patrol and Conservation officers.
The legislation also requires a community liaison for Indigenous representation in matters concerning First Nations or Métis communities. This representative will provide assistance to the Executive Director in various forms during investigations. The Executive Director has the discretion to appoint a community liaison in all other matters.