On the beat with Canadian police
Det Sgt Phil Malligan learned how Canadian police approach violence in Indigenous communities.
Thanks to the July 2018 edition of Police Monthly
A White Ribbon Ambassador in the Riverina Police District travelled to Canada recently to learn more about how domestic violence is handled by law enforcement on the other side of the world.
Det Sgt Phil Malligan swapped a Wagga Wagga summer for snow-covered Canada in January after receiving the Prince of Wales Award, a scholarship awarded to Australian Defence Force reservists that provides opportunities for training and development in relation to their usual occupation.
A criminal investigator based in Wagga Wagga, Sgt Malligan proposed to undertake the Royal Canadian Mounted Police College’s Integrated Approaches to Interpersonal Violence & Abuse course in Alberta, in Canada’s west.
“As a detective sergeant and a White Ribbon Ambassador for the past 10 years, this course offered a great opportunity to enhance my knowledge, competencies and skills to expand my role in educating frontline officers and supervisors working in communities facing Aboriginal domestic violence issues,” Sgt Malligan said.
“Violence, particular domestic violence, remains prevalent in Aboriginal communities and in Wagga Wagga generally. Nearly one woman dies at the hand of a male intimate partner across Australia each week and a large proportion of these female victims are Aboriginal women.”
“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is world renowned and, given Canada is a Commonwealth country that works under common law as Australia does, its officers deal with very similar issues when it comes to violence and abuse in Indigenous communities.”
During the two week he spent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Sgt Malligan observed the effectiveness of its Aboriginal Policing Unit as its officers engaged with Canada’s First Nation communities.
He reported that one of its most successful strategies has been to incentivise Indigenous officers to live and work among First Nation communities.
“Police working in these First Nation communities are predominantly made up of officers from an Indigenous background who already have ‘Indian status’,” he said. “This makes the liaison between police and the local First Nation people, especially the Elders and Chief Council, culturally appropriate.
“Police with ‘Indian status’ receive tax-free pay while they live and work in First Nation communities, which encourages Indigenous officers to remain in the community for longer and building their relationships with local Elders, agencies and, most importantly, the local Indigenous families they police.
“This incentive has also seen the crime rate in these smaller communities drop considerably,” Sgt Malligan said.
While in Canada, Sgt Malligan braved temperatures as low as -41°C to immerse himself in local law enforcement. He went on patrol with the Edmonton Police Service’s Flight Operations Unit, undertook the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s virtual reality training for pistol shooting and driving, and acted as a guest review officer at an officer graduation.
He addressed retired officers in Alberta, graduating officers in Regina Saskatchewan, and serving officers of the Edmonton Police Service, sharing his experiences of 30 years of policing in NSW.
Now back in his role as a criminal investigations team leader in Wagga Wagga, Sgt Malligan plans to present some of what he has learned, to try to positively influence the way NSW police engage with Aboriginal communities.
“I’d like to help police understand why violence and abuse is so prevalent in Indigenous communities and how to identify, empower, mobilise and work with the community and associated agencies to develop reduction and prevention strategies,” he said.
“The knowledge, experience and wisdom I’ve brought back, I hope to be able to implement into my daily life as a partner, father, team leader, mentor and roll model in the community, to reduce the ever-increasing issue of interpersonal violence and abuse.”
Det Sgt Phil Malligan inspects the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s newest troops as the guest review officer at a recent graduation ceremony
Last update: Wednesday, 29 August 2018