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OPP commissioner expects cops to do job

Karen Best
Dunville Chronicle
Local News - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 @ 05:00

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Ontario Provincial Police officers are expected to do their job in all circumstances, including in the Caledonia situation.

OPP Commissioner Gwen Boniface told The Chronicle that there are not specific rules of engagement in place for the native land dispute. Officers will clearly do their job while using discretion based on the environment and their assessment of it, she said.

When it was pointed out that officers watched as a camera man was hit by natives on June 9, the commissioner said those matters are under investigation and will be looked when it is completed. "We expect officers will do their jobs," Boniface stated.

She also said it was absolutely wrong that officers have been ordered to refrain from laying charges against natives. "Officers are expected to do their duty in a very challenging environment and they have done a very good job under difficult circumstances," she added.

A few Caledonia residents told the paper that they found natives sitting in their backyards. When they called police, they were told to leave the protesters alone and police did not respond.

Boniface was not aware of these backyard incidents. These matters, along with non-response to intimidation and harassment, should be brought to the attention of the Haldimand County OPP detachment and they will be looked into, she said.

"It's valuable to us if they have a concern with how a matter was dealt with and we need to know that," said Boniface.

In Caledonia, some officers are working in a community liaison capacity and they may be able to offer greater comfort to people with concerns, she said.

On Tuesday morning, she and County OPP inspector Brian Haggith met with council in a 90 minute closed session to discuss policing for the Caledonia land occupation situation.

Boniface was aware that residents on Sixth Line, which is on the southern edge of Douglas Creek Estates, are served by Six Nations police. Sixth Line is a Haldimand County road. "We need to have discussions around the Sixth Line issue and we will follow up and look into the understanding," she said. Once this is completed, that information will be communicated back to every household, she promised.

Boniface, who is facing criticism for lack of leadership in the Caledonia situation, has been in Caledonia a number of times in March and April. She was in town at least once after OPP arrested 16 on April 20. As far as she is concerned, OPP are operating in a manner that is in compliance with their contract with Haldimand County.

When asked if OPP will act on the Trespass to Property law if another native occupation begins, the commissioner said, "Every circumstance will be judged on its own merits."

Boniface was not aware of an email petition requesting her removal. By Tuesday, the petition was signed by 445 people. Some were too frightened to print in their names.

The commissioner is aware that the Ontario Provincial Police Association has also requested her resignation. She is working closely with the association through difficult circumstances and maintaining an open dialogue.

Coun. Lorne Boyko, who launched the request for a meeting with Boniface, was satisfied with information provided in the private session. While he could not give details on any changes or responses offered, he did say that the commissioner heard all of council's concerns about policing related to the land dispute.

Boniface provided council with an update on what was taking place, rationales and where things will go from here, he reported. She has promised to keep the lines of communication with council open.

Based on a resolution of the Haldimand County police services board, the OPP's provincial component, which is staffing the Caledonia response, will be connected into the board. Direct liaison from the provincial contingent will provide accurate and timely information which can dispel rumours and speculation about police actions, stated a joint release from the OPP and the board. This dialogue will continue until the land claim issue is resolved.

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