By Jensen, Randy on June 20, 2020.
Blood Tribe Police Service Chief of Police Kyle Melting Tallow has spent the last 22 years of this career in First Nations policing.
Not only does First Nations policing try to reflect in its service the people and culture it represents, it also creates a platform to discuss doing policing differently and providing positive role modelling to the community, says Melting Tallow.
“The foundation is relationships,” he says. “How we go about our policing in our community is we do build relationships. We certainly weigh that side of things when we are called out to enforce certain types of things.
“We are looking at simply not just reacting to a scenario, and placing them before the courts, and then letting the court deal with that,” Melting Tallow adds. “That really doesn’t solve a lot of the problems in the community. So we try to do a lot of work with people and have them understand why we have to do what we do. It really helps with that relationship; so the next time we are called to deal with them there is not a negative interaction.”
Melting Tallow grew up on the Siksika First Nation. His father was an officer in the Siksika Nation Police Service at that time, planting the seed for Melting Tallow to enter into policing himself one day. Melting Tallow started out as an officer in the same service after passing through the RCMP training academy in 1998, and served until that police service disbanded in 2002. He then went on to serve as a police officer with the Tsuut’nina Nation Police Service before arriving at the Blood Tribe Police Service in 2006. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming acting chief of police in 2016 before being confirmed as chief of police in 2018.
Melting Tallow is one of only two Indigenous officers to attain the rank of Chief of Police in Alberta, and there are few others in any other part of Canada. Melting Tallow is aware this fact gives him a larger-than-usual platform to speak from when it comes to Indigenous experiences and expectations with policing in Canada.
“It offers me a platform when I am meeting with other Chiefs of Police,” Melting Tallow explains. “Not only in Alberta, but even across Canada, it offers me a platform to advance some of the issues that Indigenous policing is challenged with. And also perspectives from the people. One of the things that comes to my mind is the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report that came out last year, which offered a lot of calls to justice on how police can behave and do their job. But also some other recommendations came out of there in relation to connections with communities.”
The Blood Tribe Police Service was founded as a result of the 1988 Rolf Inquiry which identified perceived “double standards” in both LPS and RCMP investigations involving First Nations people living in southern Alberta at the time. The Inquiry found the desire of the Blood Tribe to police themselves was a way to renew trust in the legal system and better reflect their own cultural values in the way they want to be policed.
Melting Tallow says it is his mandate as chief of police to ensure this intent continues to remain a driving force of local policing.
“We do have a means of attaining certain rites within our organization,” he explains. “Some of us have been given headdresses, some of us have different connections to community through our societies, our ceremonies, and all the different practices that are out here. That is a way of life for the Blood Tribe people, and we need to respect that. So we really focus on bridging those gaps when we do bring new people in who may not be familiar with the community. That’s one of the things we make sure they have some education and awareness around so they can adapt into the community a lot easier. We do have to respect the culture and the ways of the people.”
Melting Tallow’s goal over the course of his career as Chief of Police of the Blood Tribe Police Service is to encourage more young people from the Blood Tribe itself to become officers; thereby creating a local police force which is even more representative of the community they serve.
“We are looking at really challenging that application process to see what we can do to either diminish or have different perspectives brought into that recruiting stream to look at the Indigenous perspective,” he states. “That way, we can actually look at bringing more people in from the community who will help with our goal of raising the level and quality of service within our community. We have a high representation of local members, but the community is looking for more. Because, again, it raises that confidence and connectivity between the officer and community.”
Melting Tallow says he is proud of both his uniform and his Indigenous cultural heritage, and he is happy he has found a place in the Blood Tribe Police Service where he truly feels at home.
“Being one of the only First Nation Chiefs of Police in Alberta, I am very proud of that fact,” he states. “Being that role model for other Indigenous people to join not only just in Blood Tribe, but even in other organizations across Canada to really help all of the Indigenous community. Our hope is to serve, and really make a difference within our home communities in the way we police.”
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