June 23rd, 2024

BTPS launches first Indigenous Crime Stoppers chapter

By Lethbridge Herald on March 11, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Blood Tribe Police Service Cst. Samantha Pedersen speaks to the media about the inception of the Blood Tribe Crime Stoppers Tursday at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman LETHBRIDGE HERALD apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Crime Stoppers Canada has a new chapter which is the first of its kind. And the community that developed it is hoping more will follow. 

Blood Tribe Crime Stoppers is the first Indigenous-led Crime Stoppers chapter in Canada, an initiative that was made possible by a partnership among Blood Tribe Police Service, Blood Tribe Chief in Council, Blood Tribe Opioid Response and Southern Alberta Crime Stoppers.

“This program was generated and made for our future generations, for our community, for Kainai. Every voice matters,” said Cst. Samantha Pedersen with the Blood Tribe Police Service during a Thursday media event. 

She said that for many years the Blood Tribe has been in a state of emergency due to the opioid crisis and they needed a new way to help people.

“We actually got our first tip on the day of our launch,” said Pedersen. 

It is a different avenue, as Pedersen believes that a lot of people do not report crime due to fear of retaliation, and therefore this a way to protect them and keep them anonymous. 

“Which is really important to us as police. To protect our community and their identities,” said Pedersen. 

Pedersen said that being the first Indigenous Crime Stoppers chapter in Canada is important because they want to show other Indigenous communities that thinking outside the box and going for an idea or concept that you have is possible. 

“Not only that, we can work together to keep our communities safe. So, I think right now with the rising crime in our Indigenous communities we need to think about something else, but also protecting our people at the same time,” said Pedersen. 

Pedersen is hoping members of the community will call to report anything crime related. 

“We just need the information. A lot of times people are witnesses to things and they don’t want to say anything. Sometimes people are there when something happens and then they leave, they leave prior to police arrival as well, so all of that is really important,” said Pedersen. 

Chief of police of the Blood Tribe Police Services, Brice Iron Shirt, said using the Crime Stoppers program to help their opioid crisis is going to be a huge benefit.  

“The Blood Tribe Police Service takes pride in the partnership that Cst. Pedersen has developed with Crime Stoppers and the creation of the first Indigenous-based policing Crime Stoppers program and we look forward to utilizing their services to provide a safer community for people,” said Iron Shirt. 

Blood Tribe Opioid Response coordinator, Alayna Many Guns, said Crime Stoppers is an integral part of managing, controlling and forwarding concerns that the people see within the community. 

“The people of the Blood Tribe have made it really clear that they do not want opioids, or drugs in the community. They’ve been contacting myself and the six teams that I work with in regards to promoting a safe community for their children and for themselves,” said Many Guns. 

Current president of Southern Alberta Crime Stoppers, Russ Kramer, said they are proud to be involved with First Nations partners and Blood Tribe Police and look forward to continued growth in Alberta and the success of the program. 

“Anonymity is a huge step and through Crime Stoppers that’s one of the things that we really offered that is exclusive really to Crime Stoppers. It’s been challenged and upheld all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Kramer. 

He said the rewards are incentives for some people but he wanted to go on record to say that about 90 per cent of the cheques they write for rewards never get cashed. He said it is just people being good stewards of the community. 

Crime Stoppers has a cap of $2000 for a tip reward that leads to information relating to any crime. 

“As a group, we are a board of volunteers and we decide as a group how much each tip is worth depending on what the outcome is,” said Pedersen.

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