To this point in Saskatchewan, serious incidents involving those in custody or being apprehended by police officers have been investigated by other policing bodies. As of January 1, The Police (Serious Incident Response Team) Amendment Act allows a newly formed body to conduct such investigations.
"These changes will allow the SIRT to engage in any serious incident involving police, from initiating a full investigation to reviewing, overseeing, assisting or delegating one," Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said. "The Act coming into force completes the transition to a civilian-led, independent police oversight body and brings Saskatchewan's police oversight regime into line with most other Canadian jurisdictions."
Overseen by a civilian director, SIRT members will investigate matters where serious injury or death may have occurred while in the custody of police, as a result of the actions of a police officer, or where sexual assault or interpersonal violence involving police are alleged. Other investigations may also be conducted where the Executive Director believes they are in the public interest. SIRT can also assume conduct of an ongoing investigation at any stage.
"The people of Saskatchewan rightly hold their police officers to a high standard," Public Complaints Commission Executive Director Greg Gudelot said. "A fully-operational SIRT ensures that serious incidents involving Saskatchewan police will be investigated through an independent and transparent process designed to ensure a fair and high-quality investigation for all those involved."
The investigative body will have Indigenous representation when an individual involved is of First Nations or Métis ancestry. Summaries of SIRT investigations will be published online to ensure transparency in the investigation process and provide the public with informative results.