Lethbridge police chief responds to race tensions in U.S.

After releasing a statement on the death of George Floyd this week, Lethbridge’s interim police Chief Scott Woods is sharing his thoughts on the civil unrest and protests in the United States due to racism in law enforcement.

“We certainly don’t want people feeling that way within our community,” Woods said Wednesday. “I don’t. I think when you look at videos like what’s been going on in Minnesota, it makes you sick to your stomach.”

Woods said the Lethbridge Police Service has already been taking action to respond locally.

“What I’ve been doing is actually reaching out to some of the people within that community,” Woods said.

He says LPS is consulting with groups like Blood Tribe elders and the Sage Clan for guidance on next steps.

“[We can] start having that discussion as to what are the things that they’re seeing that they feel that we’re not doing or that we’re coming up short on.” 

Woods says they are also exploring ways to better hold one another accountable.

“We implemented training earlier this year about disengaging,” Woods explained. “About taking a step back when we get into situations.”

Sage Clan founder, Mark Brave Rock, said he is is optimistic to discuss issues like the locations to which inexperienced officers are deployed, and unaddressed racial bias.

He adds that addressing that issue can only help with racial tension between citizens.

Protesters outside the police station on Wednesday said they were encouraged to hear the response from LPS.

“They do need to hold each other accountable,” protester Kladi Mwansa said. “I do think that going within the communities and asking what’s needed is important. We really just need community involvement. We do need them to work alongside us. We do. That’s really important.”

“Really, at the end of the day as a police service, we have to look inwardly at some of the things that we’re doing,” Woods said.

“A police service needs to be reflective of the community that it serves.”

A protest against racial injustice in Lethbridge is planned for Thursday afternoon, beginning in front of city hall.

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