[lg policy] Canada: Fredericton police broke language and conduct rules, investigation finds

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Feb 2 10:29:59 EST 2018


 Fredericton police broke language and conduct rules, investigation finds
Traffic stop complaint to N.B. Police Commission results in 2 officers
being disciplined, 3 recommendations

By Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, CBC News
<http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364> Posted:
Feb 01, 2018 7:52 PM AT Last Updated: Feb 01, 2018 7:52 PM AT
[image: Fredericton police Chief Leanne Fitch said additional resources
will be allocated to provide some French training, but she believes current
proficiency levels reflect the city's population.]

Fredericton police Chief Leanne Fitch said additional resources will be
allocated to provide some French training, but she believes current
proficiency levels reflect the city's population. (CBC)
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A complaint filed against the Fredericton Police Force over the way two
officers responded to a request for service in French during a traffic stop
last summer has resulted in disciplinary action and three recommended
changes.

An investigation by the New Brunswick Police Commission found the two
officers did not comply fully with the province's Official Languages ​​Act
or with the force's language policies and procedures.

"The Fredericton Police Force takes the findings of the commission's
investigative report very seriously," Chief Leanne Fitch said in a
statement Thursday.

"We will continue to make improvements to address a number of
recommendations outlined in the report."

Katherine d'Entremont, the commissioner of official languages, could not
immediately be reached for comment.


   - *Aldéa Landry to investigate language-related complaint against
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   <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/police-commission-landry-investigate-fredericton-officer-complaint-1.4216238>
   - *'We were shaking': Passenger explains complaint against Fredericton
   police*
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   - *Police commission to investigate language complaint against
   Fredericton police*
   <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/police-commission-investigate-language-complaint-fredericton-police-1.4195604>

The complaint was filed June 13 by two women who said they had received
unprofessional and intimidating treatment after their car was pulled over
by police on Smythe Street on June 11.

In an interview with CBC News in July, the passenger said the driver told
police she did not speak English and would need to be addressed in French,
which was her right.

The first two police officers who came to the car, however, would speak
only in English, the passenger said, and one of them told her he was sure
she, too, spoke English.
[image: Fredericton police cruiser]

The names of the two officers involved will not be released and details of
their settlement agreement are also confidential. (Daniel McHardie/CBC)

Eventually, a third officer, who was bilingual, arrived to handle
the traffic stop. The driver was issued tickets for an expired registration
and failure to produce proof of insurance.

The complaint contained seven allegations, but only two were upheld, said
Fitch, without elaborating.

The New Brunswick Police Commission investigated a conduct complaint
against the two officers and a service complaint against the force under
two sections of the New Brunswick Police Act, according to executive
director Steve Roberge.

"There were indeed disciplinary processes" against the two officers,
confirmed Roberge.

But he said he could not release the names of the officers, the nature of
their conduct or details about the disciplinary action because the matter
did not proceed to a public arbitration hearing.

Fitch said the officers had to attend a settlement conference, but
settlement agreements are confidential under the Police Act.

"We acknowledge that traffic stops can be challenging," she said. "Officers
must consider a number of variables with each encounter to ensure the
public and officer safety."
[image: hi-steve-roberge]

Steve Roberge, executive director of the New Brunswick Police Commission,
said it's up to the minister of Justice and Public Safety to ensure the
recommendations are complied with. (CBC)

With respect to the service complaint against the force, the commission's
investigator, former deputy premier Aldéa Landry, recommended that:

   - The wording of the pocket translator, in consultation with the
   Department of Public Safety, be enhanced to cover an officer asking a
   driver to produce their licence, registration and proof of insurance.
   - Refresher sessions be given at least once a year to all non-bilingual
   police officers to remind them of their obligations under the Official
   Languages ​​Act and the force's language policy.
   - The Fredericton Police Force ensure there is at least one bilingual
   officer available at all times to provide service in the language choice
   of members of the public, within a reasonable time.

Roberge said it's up to Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry to
ensure the recommendations are complied with. The department did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fitch said it's "a constant challenge" for the force to balance providing
public safety services while also complying with the Official Languages Act.

But "additional resources will be allocated" to provide some French
language training for officers and staff.
26% of 'staff' know some French

As it stands, about 26 per cent of "staff" have some capability in French,
ranging from basic up to French being their first language, according to
oral testing conducted last summer, said Fitch.

She did not provide the proficiency levels for officers alone.

"We feel this reflects the city's population and needs, which according to
Statistics Canada, in Fredericton 75 per cent speak English only, and 24
per cent are bilingual or French-speaking only," Fitch said. "The last
one per cent is neither English nor French.

"Our numbers/ratio reflect well in terms of per cent French and English
provincially.

She also said training is a constant process in the department, and
language training is part of professional development.
Bilingualism can't be 'prerequisite'

All job postings now list bilingualism as a "preference and an asset," said
Fitch.

"We can't narrow it to 'prerequisite' because the pool of interested
qualified candidates would be too small," she said.

For the past several years, all officers have been trained to provide the
required "active offer" of serving citizens in the language of their choice
and have been issued pocket translator cards.

The force continues to inform its members about the importance of
"formulating the active offer," said Fitch.


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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