Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch remarked that police basic training has very little education about sexual assault and may be “fairly shallow” at the panel discussion, “Beyond Jian: Sexual Violence and Rape Culture in the Justice System and Media,” organized by White Ribbon Fredericton on April 7, 2016 at the University of New Brunswick in UNB Fredericton. Over 200 people were in attendance.
Fitch went on to specify that the Atlantic Police Academy’s basic training is 6 months long and it is up to the agency they work in to train them more specifically. The preparation an officer receives depends on available funding in his/her agency and, in Fredericton, the budget has been shrinking in the past years.
According to Fitch, the Fredericton Police Force employs 127 people in Fredericton (officers and civilian members) and their training budget is only $90,000/year. There are three Detectives in the Special Crimes Unit.
Smaller police forces in New Brunswick have even less education, according to Fitch.
According to the last available Public Safety Annual Report available on the City of Fredericton website (2013), there was an average of 74 sexual assaults per year from 2008-2012 (categorized as sexual assaults and “other sexual assaults”), and 72 in 2013.
Sexual assault and “other sexual assault” made up 12% of all crimes against people dealt with by the Fredericton Police Force in 2013.
The 2016 Fredericton Budget sets out over $19,5 million dollars dedicated to the Police force prevention and response (including salaries).
The Fredericton Police Force relies on community partners like the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (FSACC) and the Muriel McQueen Centre for Family Violence for training.
Fitch added that there is no good consistent model of education in any police force in the country, but the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is trying to put together a framework for standardization of education on topics such as Intimate Partner Violence, for example.
Other panelists included Michael Camp (STU journalism), Dr. Karla O’Regan (STU Criminology/UNB Law), Ben Reentovich (Defense Lawyer and UNB Law Instructor), Jenn Richard (co-chair of White
Ribbon Fredericton and Director of Community Development at FSACC), Laura Brown (CTV reporter), and Kathryn Gregory (NB Crown Prosecutor).
The UNB Student Union and the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers co-sponsored the event’s refreshments. Volunteers from FSACC provided a safe space during the event.
Sophie M. Lavoie writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op.