P.A. police announce designated elder, new officers

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Matt Gardner
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The Prince Albert Police Service picked up some new members of its team on Monday.

Besides formalizing its relationship with a Métis elder who serves as a cultural liaison, police named three new officers who are joining the force.

In his announcement that longtime community stalwart Julie Pitzel has been named the designated elder for the P.A. Police Service, Chief Troy Cooper noted his longstanding personal relationship with the elder.

“I first met Julie Pitzel more than 30 years ago, when I took a conversational Cree class at SIAST, and I’ve been fortunate to call her a friend of mine ever since then,” Cooper said.

“She’s my friend of course, but she plays another vital role for our police service acting as an elder when called upon to provide advice or to help us with some culturally sensitive cases, and I’m pleased to announce today that Julie has agreed to allow us to formalize that relationship and let both our members and the community know that she’s our designated elder.”

By taking on the volunteer position, Pitzel will serve as the first contact for police officers when elder services are required, helping members find appropriate cultural resources by drawing upon her network of contacts in the community.

Aside from offering advice to police, she will also assist the aboriginal resource officer in providing ongoing cultural training -- something Cooper said reflects a police commitment to cultural sensitivity.

“If we had a serious or significant case that was culturally sensitive, we’ve contacted her in the past and we’ll continue to contact her,” Cooper said. “She helps us bridge that cultural gap, so she’s our liaison … between the families, the culture, and the police, a world which can be quite scary.

“The whole court and public safety system is complicated and for people that aren’t used to dealing with it, it’s comfortable to have somebody either speaking in their own language or speaking from the perspective of a respected elder.”

Fluent in both Cree and Dene, Pitzel has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments in the community over the years.

Having worked as a counsellor, teacher and school principal, she served as the aboriginal resource officer for Prince Albert police for 11 years, gaining a familiarity with the court system, police and individual officers.

A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Pitzel has served on the federal Human Rights Commission, as a senator at the University of Saskatchewan and as a board member or volunteer for the Indian-Métis Friendship Centre, Ranch Ehrlo Society, John M. Cuelenaere Public Library and Native Co-ordinating Centre among other organizations.

The whole court and public safety system is complicated and for people that aren’t used to dealing with it, it’s comfortable to have somebody either speaking in their own language or speaking from the perspective of a respected elder. Police Chief Troy Cooper

Accepting her new position, Pitzel thanked her own teachers who are now deceased and hoped she was doing the best she could.

“I’m really honoured today to come back and work within the service area of Prince Albert Police Service, because my work here is very important to me through the years that I have been here,” she said.

Pitzel praised the proactive approach of the police service in focusing on prevention as well as reacting to issues that come up in the city.

Highlighting the importance of promoting cultural understanding, she added, “I think that in Prince Albert, we are a unique city and we have a high population of aboriginal people, and we need to educate each other and interact with each other and develop a relationship within our community.

“If we have concerns, the best way that we can take over our city is to be able to work together.”

Following the announcement of Pitzel as designated elder, Sgt. Brandon Mudry introduced the three newest members of the Prince Albert Police Service: Const. Luke Torgunrud, Const. Braden Blais and Const. Jonathan Wilde.

“These three young gentlemen, as of Friday, just finished … what may be described as a grueling 20-week program at the Saskatchewan Police College located at the University of Regina,” Mudry said.

“They’re back with us as of today, and as of this week they will go through one week of in-house training and then be deployed to their respective platoons.”

Torgunrud, 23, grew up in Prince Albert and worked as a bylaw officer before being promoted into the P.A. Police Service.

Blais, 25, has a diploma in criminal justice. Originally from Prince Albert, he has more recently been living in Saskatoon where he served as a protective services special constable for the University of Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon product Wilde, 25, also has a diploma in criminal justice and worked as a court security officer for the provincial government prior to his employment with Prince Albert police.

Organizations: Saskatchewan Police College, Prince Albert, P.A. Police Service University of Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission Indian-Métis Friendship Centre Ranch Ehrlo Society John M. Cuelenaere Public Library Luke Torgunrud, Const. University of Regina

Geographic location: Saskatoon

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  • Cecile Bernice Corrigal
    June 03, 2014 - 12:25

    I am proud to say that this amazing woman is my cousin, my relative, my mentor, she is someone I look up to, and have for years, she is a wonderful woman, very compassionate, and a very loving human being.. She really cares for everyone, and so willingly helps those in need, congrats Julie, love u, take care, see u when I see u.....

  • Judy Bonneau
    June 03, 2014 - 09:13

    Check it out...