Police officers are meant to be there to protect the people. If anyone happens to be in danger, they are the ones who are there to help. At least that’s the way it works in theory.
Darrell Night found out that what works in theory doesn’t always work in real life. Night was picked up on the evening of January 28, 2000 by two Saskatoon police officers, Dan Hatchen, and Ken Munson.
The two former police officers decided to dump Night in the freezing cold temperatures on the outskirts of town. This decision ended up costing them not only their jobs, but on March 14, they were sentenced to eight months behind bars.
According to one of their lawyers, Morris Bodnar, the case could go as high as the Supreme Court, depending on Bodnar’s findings after reviewing the decision. They have 60 days from the time of the decision to decide whether they want to appeal.
Lawrence Joseph, Vice-chief of the Saskatchewan Federation of Indians thinks that despite how it appears, this case was only partially motivated by race. He says that sometimes police get into a certain routine, and end up getting lazy, or not doing their jobs right.
“When you put a uniform and a gun on certain individuals, they tend to abuse their authority. There are some people who should not be wearing uniforms.”
Night was dropped off in the same vicinity where two frozen aboriginal bodies were found.
Dropping people off on the outskirts of the city has become somewhat of an epidemic. The police seem content to dump certain people who they’ve picked up numerous times, rather than get them the help they need.
These people tend to be aboriginal.
Bill Burge, the crown prosecutor for the Night case said that as far as he knows, there hasn’t been any charges laid in the case involving the two aboriginal bodies.
Non-native police tend to be out of touch with the native reality, according to Joseph. “Instead of arresting our people, we should be treating them. Alcoholism is a disease.”
What is desperately needed in the province is an aboriginal police force. A police force which answers to and is run by native people. Accountability is something which is sorely lacking when non-native police forces attempt to police the native reserves.
There is one aboriginal police force which has been in effect for a few years near Fort Qu’Appelle, but it only services five reserves. There are 75 nations and over 100 reserves in Saskatchewan alone.
Night said he was happy that Hatchen and Munson got what they deserved. “They thought they could get away with it. I remember that night I said, I’ll freeze out there.’ And Hatchen turned and said, ‘That’s your f**king problem.’ Well, it’s their f**king problem now.”
If there is an appeal, and this case goes to Supreme Court, the trial could take upwards of a year or more.