ontario news watch

Saskatchewan begins search for top cop to lead new marshals service

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says it has begun to search for someone to lead its new marshals service. 

The chief marshal will be responsible for developing the new provincial police force that’s to start operating in 2026. 

The person will oversee about 70 officers, as well as support staff. 

Public Safety Minister Paul Merriman says the province is looking for someone with the skills and experience required to operate a modern police service.

The person chosen must be an experienced senior law enforcement executive with a demonstrated track record of collaborating with partners. 

The province announced last fall it would create the marshals service to help enhance public safety, but RCMP and some police unions have raised concerns.

Saskatchewan RCMP Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore has questioned what the new force will mean for the Mounties. Some policing unions have said dollars could be better spent on existing services.

The province has said it plans to spend $7 million this year to establish the marshals. Once fully operational, the service is expected to cost $20 million annually. 

The province’s plan for the provincial police force came under fire again last month for not requiring the service to have an oversight body until boots are on the ground. 

An order-in-council said the minister of corrections, policing and public safety would act in place of a board to oversee operations. Former public safety minister Christine Tell said at the time that a board would be created once the marshals are operational.

Most policing organizations have boards, commissions or advisory bodies made up of civilians and elected officials who provide oversight when police make decisions.

The province says the marshals service will enhance law enforcement across Saskatchewan with a focus on deterring criminal activity in rural and remote areas, locating high-risk offenders and conducting proactive policing related to agriculture offences. 

The marshals will also provide support to the RCMP, First Nations police and municipal services, the province said. 

“We’re looking for someone who can simultaneously act as a leader, a mentor, and a relationship builder,” Merriman said in a news release Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 12, 2023.

The Canadian Press