Canada's largest Indigenous police force has never shot anyone dead

POLICE TAPE

TORONTO - Officers with Canada's largest Indigenous police force have never shot and killed anyone -- and no officer has died in the line of duty.

The Nishnawbe Aski Police Service in northern Ontario is proud of  that record.

Police Chief Roland Morrison says it's largely due to the fact his officers are often by themselves and know they have little or no backup, especially in remote areas.

Morrison says that because of the environment the officers have to build strong relationships with the people they serve -- and also develop strong communication and de-escalation skills.

Erick Laming, an Indigenous P-H-D criminology student at the University of Toronto, says familiarity with the community is crucial.

He notes that it's harder for outsiders to build the kind of relationships required for effective policing in Indigenous communities.

The 26-year-old Nishnawbe Aski service employs about 200 officers, 60 per cent of them Indigenous.

Pending legislation in Ontario will allow First Nations services to come under provincial policing laws, which should mean better working conditions.

The federal government also said recently that First Nations police forces should be deemed an essential service, something they aren't now.