Corporal Chris Voller said the recently vacated position will only be filled when all three local First Nations agree on the candidate. (Zoë Ducklow)

Corporal Chris Voller said the recently vacated position will only be filled when all three local First Nations agree on the candidate. (Zoë Ducklow)

New Indigenous policing services officer will be approved by all local First Nations

Cpl. Voller will not hire without unanimous consent

Constable Jordan Mullen, the Indigenous policing services officer in Port Hardy has been promoted, leaving his position vacant as of July 28.

Detachment head Corporal Chris Voller is consulting with the three First Nations in the detachment’s region — Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Quatsino and Kwakiutl — to agree on a replacement. Voller has recommended a candidate, and will wait for unanimous approval from the First Nations.

The decision to consult is Voller’s, and is not RCMP protocol. He sees it as the only right way forward.

Indigenous policing services is a proactive position, where the officer is focused on getting involved in the community and building positive relationships. The goal is to establish mutual trust so the officer can help intervene before a situation gets to the level of a 9-1-1 call.

“If the people aren’t comfortable with that person, it would be counter-productive,” Voller said.

His recommended candidate is someone who is already in the detachment, a strategic decision because it means they already have relationships and cultural knowledge, and understand historic context that affect policing.

“Every community has certain cultural aspects that a police officer should be aware of that exasperate policing needs. Because there were residential schools and because Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw are relocated communities, there are issues there that exasperate policing issues. Issues that can push people with trauma into criminality,” Voller said. He makes sure that every new officer is trained on local cultural context, regardless of whether they are specifically assigned to Indigenous policing services.

He is keenly aware of the RCMP’s negative history particularly with Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s forced relocation, and is determined to do better. It’s one reason why he’s adamant that the new candidate will be approved by all local First Nations.

RELATED: Heartfelt thanks given to Cst. Jordan Mullen, moving on after four years in Port Hardy

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