Fredericton Police Force responds to the Police Commission's Investigation Report on an Official Languages Complaint.

In an effort to promote transparency and in the public interest, Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch wants to share the findings of the Police Commission's investigation report on an Official Languages complaint laid against the police service and two officers of the Fredericton Police Force on June 13, 2017.

The report concludes that two police officers involved in a June 11, 2017, traffic stop, did not comply fully with the Official Languages ​​Act and in line with the policies and procedures of the Fredericton Police Force.

The complaint filed in this case contained seven allegations. The investigation report found that only two allegations were upheld.

The investigation report recommends that:

a) In consultation with the Department of Public Safety, the wording of the pocket translator be enhanced to cover a request by a police officer for the production of a driver's license, registration and proof insurance.

b) Refresher sessions should be given at least once a year basis, to all non-bilingual police officers of the Force to remind them of their obligations under the Official Languages ​​Act of New Brunswick and the Language Policy of the Force;

c) The Fredericton Police Force ensures that at all time, there is at least one bilingual police officer available to provide service in the language choice of the members of the public, within a reasonable time.

“The Fredericton Police Force takes the findings of the Commission’s investigative report very seriously,” said Chief Fitch. “We will continue to make improvements to address a number of recommendations outlined in the report.”

The Fredericton Police Force strives to fully comply with the obligation to actively offer service in the language of its choice under the Official Languages Act of NB. We continue to inform our members of the importance of formulating the active offer.

The constant challenge for the police force, is achieving a balance by providing the public with Public Safety services and also complying with the Official Language Act.

We are addressing those challenges and here is an update of what we have done and continue to do:

The Fredericton Police Force has done a base line French Language testing through the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL) and some of those results are still coming in. Last count, we are at 30 plus employees (officers and civilian) who have varying degrees from basic, basic level 1 through to first language French. Our numbers/ ratio reflect well in terms of percent French and English provincially.

At the management level, have some basic level of French to French first language.

All of our officers have been trained to provide the required "by law" Active Offer for several years now and have a pocket translator card issued at the time of hiring. It is included in our orientation training for new officers.

Our posted hiring requirements now include bilingual as a "preference “and an asset. We can't narrow it to "prerequisite" because the pool of interested qualified candidates would be too small.

Additional resources will be allocated to provide some French Language training for our officers and staff.

After evaluating our personnel this past summer with PETL’s Oral test, 26% of our staff presently has French Language capacities, some are officially bilingual with French being their first Language.

“We feel this reflects the city’s population and needs which according to Statistics Canada, in Fredericton 75% speak English only and 24 % are bilingual or French speaking only. The last 1% is neither English nor French,” she said.

“To be fair, we must keep in mind that for Fredericton Police Force, training our staff is a continuous process in many areas of expertise and language training is one part of our members’ professional development.”

With respect to the two officers involved in this particular case, they had to attend a settlement conference which falls under the Police Act and these settlement agreements are confidential.

“We acknowledge that traffic stops can be challenging,” she said. Officers must consider a number of variables with each encounter to ensure the public and officer safety.”