Prince Albert’s challenges, uniqueness to police contributed to interim chief staying on permanently
October 24, 2023 By Jayda Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Oct. 24, 2023, Prince Albert, Sask. – Patrick Nogier says he’s ready for a challenge.
After serving Prince Albert as interim police chief for over four months, Nogier decided to stay on permanently – part of that decision, he said, was the drive to improve safety in a community with “big city issues,” but limited policing resources.
“It has homelessness, addictions, transiency, criminal activity, and you may not have all of the same type of support mechanisms from a policing perspective,” he said.
Previously, Nogier worked at the Saskatoon Police Service as the superintendent in charge of the Criminal Investigations Division. His career there spanned three decades in a variety of roles.
He said Saskatoon has resources such as an air support unit for patrol – which it says reduces the city’s crime rate by at least 10 per cent – and dedicated units for tactical support and sex crimes.
“The men and women that are responding on the day-to-day activity in Prince Albert are responding to and responsible for much more than their counterparts in larger cities,” said Nogier.
The answer isn’t always more officers on the ground. While statistics show an adequate number of police officers for the city’s population, the amount of people in the city fluctuates because of its transiency.
“It’s not always about bullets and handguns and batons. Sometimes it’s about engagement; sometimes it’s about re-thinking how you approach a situation and what your response is going to be. There are a lot of good initiatives that we can work on moving forward.”
While acknowledging that the police service has a long way to go, Nogier said it’s made “remarkable improvements” in the last few months. This includes engaging with both internal members and the public and more efficiently responding to calls.
Nogier highlighted an alternative call response system, where officers respond to calls based on priority. He added that discussions of an updated strategic plan included community consultation.
He also said, often, sometimes a work environment is in need of a new sets of eyes.
“Bringing somebody new in doesn’t necessarily solve all of those problems, but what it does do is just allows an organization to sit back, reflect, and just get back to the table and talk,” he said. “All it takes is a renewed interest to discuss and re-engage.”
Nogier was appointed to the interim position in June following former Chief Jon Bergen’s resignation. The Board of Police Commissioners announced on Thursday that Nogier would be taking over permanently.
In July, the Saskatchewan government released 45 recommendations to the police service stemming from an independent review. The full report was not released.
Rod Knecht, former chief of the Edmonton Police Service, “strongly recommended” that the board look towards external candidates for the next chief in Prince Albert.
The inquiry followed Public Complaints Commission investigations into three in-custody deaths in late 2021 and the death of 13-month old Tanner Brass in early 2022.
Bergen left the force after the report on Brass was released in May, saying he and his family were receiving harassment internally and externally. At the time, he said he didn’t want his decisions involving members to be seen as biased.
“There’s a distinct difference in what I’ve experienced in the past three decades of policing in Saskatoon and what I’ve experienced in a short time in Prince Albert,” said Nogier. “Coming from a larger centre, I can say that there is an instilled sense of community bonding and community collaboration when it comes to getting together to move things in the right direction.”
Nogier said that many of the areas that required improvement were already being worked on prior to his arrival.
“We hear the community when they’re concerned about what’s going on and the challenges that they face when they’re going through a drive-thru, when their garage gets broken into, when they’re scared to walk through a park at nine o’clock at night for fear of retaliation and gang activity,” he said.
Nogier assured the public that the officers on the ground are in uniform for the right reasons – and that he, too, is dedicated to improving community well-being.
“I will do everything that I can to earn the trust of the public,” he said. “I do not demand trust—trust is earned. It’s not something that can be taken for granted, and it can be fragile.”
– Prince Albert Daily Herald
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