Ernie Louttit back with ‘Insights from the Street’
Watch above: Retired Saskatoon police Sgt. Ernie Louttit delves into the world of policing the city’s streets in his second book “Insights from the Street.” In his book, Louttit gives people who are rarely exposed to crime a view of what policing is really like.
SASKATOON – One benefit to working in media is the chance to meet unique and interesting people. One such person is Ernie Louttit.
Louttit, a retired sergeant from the Saskatoon Police Service, spent almost 27 years on the streets, often times being the first point of contact people had with someone from the police service.
Since retiring, Louttit has turned to writing. He released his first book, Indian Ernie: Perspectives on Policing and Leadership, in 2013.
His second book on policing in Saskatoon, More from Indian Ernie: Insights from the Streets, was released on July 15 and looks at the reality of dealing with prostitutes, street gangs, drunk drivers and others who come into contact with the law.
“The sharp end”
Louttit said his new book will give people who are rarely exposed to crime more insight and perspective.
“The average person’s only contact with police usually is if they’re a witness to a crime, or if they’ve committed a traffic violation,” said Louttit.
“I just wanted to give people some insight to what that police officer may have just came from, what their mindset is, their roles are, but by no means is it all encompassing, it’s just from my perspective and experience.”
Louttit calls the book his view of policing “at the sharp end,” which he describes as the constant interaction between the community and uniformed officers.
“They’re not like bomber pilots who go do their mission and then fly back and they’re safe to the next mission,” explained Louttit, “they’re constantly in contact with people, good people and bad.”
“I like that term ‘the sharp end’ because that’s what it is.”
Missing and murdered aboriginal women
One chapter of the book looks into the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. Louttit said he wrote it to get people thinking about doing something now and providing leadership, but not necessarily holding an inquiry. (An excerpt of the chapter is at the bottom of the story.)
“We could have a national inquiry, it’s a noble undertaking, but it would be a momentous undertaking,” he said, as he drew upon his experience with the Neil Stonechild inquiry.
Stonechild died of hypothermia in Saskatoon on Nov. 25, 1990. Police were accused of driving him to the outskirts of the city and abandoning him in a field on a “starlight tour.”
An inquiry into his death concluded that Stonechild had been picked up by police shortly before he died, but the police investigation was not adequate enough to determine the circumstances surrounding his death.
“It went for months,” Louttit said of the Stonechild inquiry. “It was one case they were looking at, many witnesses and I think 20 plus million dollars for the inquiry.”
“Multiply that by 12-hundred across the entire nation and it would take years to get it done.”
Louttit believes the money that would be spent on an inquiry would be better spent on programs and in communities.
“If I was a leader and in a position to do something, I would start frontloading now. Start making help available for people that need the help, indigenous women,” he passionately explained.
“Things need to be done now and not five years down the road after an inquiry where all the while the problem’s going on and the problems still exist and sometimes get worse.”
“It’s just leadership. Let’s do something now, let’s do something tangible.”
As Louttit sees it, the issue with holding a national inquiry is that each case belongs in the jurisdiction where it happened and will only be solved on a case-by-case basis.
“These are 12-hundred cases that need to be looked at by the police agency that has jurisdiction and needs to be looked at case-by-case.
“Something needs to be done now as opposed to later.”
During his career, Louttit had opportunities to move up the ranks or into other departments, but he stayed with patrol. The decision, he said, was to be able to influence new constables.
“If I would have went the next step up to Staff Sergeant, I would have been, for the most part, office bound and not really having an influence on the street.”
“As a patrol sergeant, I was directly affecting (around) 40 officers in my platoon and then the overlap platoons as well.”
As Louttit explained, you didn’t need to be the “boss” boss to have influence with your peers, something he is taking further with his writing career.
“That’s part of the book thing, is to put that message out there.”
“It’s an opportunity to lead again, this time to a wider audience, a more diverse audience.”
“Not everyone has to agree with me, as long as you listen and take something away from that.”
His second book hasn’t been out for a week yet and already Louttit is looking at a third book, exploring issues he has not yet touched on.
“Every story had another story and I thought ‘yeah, there probably is room for a third book’.”
“Whatever comes my way, maybe I’ll write other people’s stories.”
More Indian Ernie: Insights from the Street is now available from Purich Publishing and select book stores.
© 2015 Shaw Media