Troy Cooper is officially Saskatoon’s police chief.
The veteran cop from Big River, Sask. was sworn in at city hall on Wednesday in a ceremony rich with Indigenous tradition, watched by a gallery full of family, friends, police officers and community leaders.
First Nations and Metis elders said they were proud to welcome Cooper to the new job, noting he is the first openly Metis police chief in Saskatoon’s history.
“For me, it was such an honour to see it was one of our people who is now a chief of police,” said Metis senator and elder Nora Cummings, who presented Cooper with a replica of Louis Riel’s sash at the ceremony. “He’s a role model to our young people and a role model to our community.”
Cooper was also wrapped in a ceremonial blanket by Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand and FSIN vice-chief Kimberly Jonathan.
Arcand said he was concerned at first about the search for a new police chief, but he now has full confidence in Cooper as a leader.
“He’s going to be here for the people and that’s meaningful,” Arcand said. “I call you a brother now because you’re part of our First Nations family.”
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) February 28, 2018
After taking his oath of office and being presented with his Saskatoon Police Service badge, Cooper addressed the city for the first time as police chief.
He began by thanking the influences in his life, specifically elders and his family, before turning to his priorities as chief.
Cooper said Indigenous engagement would be a major focus.
“We’re going to include the Indigenous community in our service delivery in new ways so that their voice is heard and our officers have regular positive experience with culture,” he said.
The former Prince Albert top cop also said he would encourage his officers to bring their own diverse perspectives to the job.
“Whether it’s cultural diversity, gender diversity or work history — it means you bring something to the discussion we may not have had before,” he said. “Our service is not partnering with the community, it is part of the community.”
STOPPING FLOW OF DRUGS
Cooper said his top priority for crime prevention is cracking down on drug trafficking in the city.
He said the increasing trend in property crime in Saskatoon and the surrounding area is fueled by addiction to cocaine, crystal meth and fentanyl.
“These drugs provide an economic base for street gangs, they create paranoia that results in weapon possession,” he said.
Cooper added he would be directing a review of resources devoted to drug-related crime.
He also noted they would be focusing on cutting off drug supply routes coming from the west, with hopes to eliminate lethal fentanyl overdoses in the city.