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Saskatchewan takes next step in establishing police watchdog

Click to play video: 'Serious Incident Response Team in Saskatchewan' Serious Incident Response Team in Saskatchewan
WATCH: Legislation was introduced on Monday to create a civilian-led independent serious incident response team in Saskatchewan. – Apr 13, 2021

The Saskatchewan government is moving ahead with establishing a police watchdog.

Legislation was introduced on Monday to create a civilian-led independent Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT).

Once established, SIRT will be tasked with investigating serious incidents involving police officers.

Read more: Saskatchewan commits to creating police watchdog, details unclear

“The government of Saskatchewan understands the importance of transparent oversight of serious policing incidents,” Justice Minister Gordon Wyant said in a statement Monday.

“The proposed changes are the next step to enhancing police oversight and ensuring public trust.”

SIRT will be headed by a civilian executive director, and will investigate incidents where a person in police custody dies, is seriously injured or sexually assaulted. It will also investigate if those incidents are due to the actions of a police officer.

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Indigenous representation on the SIRT team will be required if the victim is First Nation or Métis.

Read more: Saskatchewan police watchdog still on the books, timeline unclear

Appointed liaisons will assist the executive director and perform functions such as coordinating with the family of the victim and advising investigators on community interactions, according to the province.

The executive director will also have the discretion to appoint a community liaison in all other matters.

The province earmarked $287,000 in the 2021-22 budget to develop SIRT.

The SIRT is expected to be operational in the fall of 2021, once staffing and training are completed.

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