FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Constable Chad Neustaeter is an Indigenous policing services and media relations officer with the Fort St. John RCMP, but many don’t know what those jobs entail.
The Indigenous Policing Services unit acts as a liaison between the police and surrounding First Nations. However, Neustaeter adds that enforcement is conducted as needed.
Each week, the unit attends one of the three Indigenous communities in the area: Halfway River, Blueberry River or Doig River First Nations.
“We spend time in the community each day. We talk with individuals that we see. We do a lot of liaising with chiefs and councils,” Neustaeter explained.
“Sometimes we’ll ask advice, or we’ll talk with them if they have questions, trying to do as much as we can to build relationships between RCMP and our local First Nations communities.”
Each time the unit goes out to each community, Neustaeter said they’re given a letter of expectations detailing what his focuses are, covering a variety of issues such as traffic, youth engagement and substance abuse.
Neustaeter added that he is aware the RCMP gets accused of being racist, and the unit is working very hard to dispel that notion.
“All three communities have reminded us that it’s about relationships,” Neustaeter said.
“The more you get to know people, the more they will trust you or distrust you. But if they know you well enough and you spend enough time with them, clearly they will build trust if you are a good person.”
Neustaeter said balancing his roles as both the Indigenous policing services and media relations officers is reasonably tough.
“Indigenous policing is supposed to be about 100 per cent of my responsibility, but at the same time, I try and do the media relations sort of off the corner of my desk,” he said.
“I know that there are times when media has reached out and asked for something, and I’m often just not available, or I’m not around, or I’m not even aware yet of what it is.”
He said the times when he is unavailable, officers in the detachment will request assistance, or the media may be able to catch him in the office.
The full interview between Neustaeter and Warren ‘Dub’ Craig can be viewed below:
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