The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement unit in Saskatchewan has announced its new name and a newly-expanded mandate.
The Saskatchewan Highway Patrol will replace Commercial Vehicle Enforcement starting in July, according to an announcement from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure. According to Minister David Marit, the group is expanding their scope as part of the Protection and Response Team, a province-wide initiative launched last summer to better address rural crime.
“We're confident this will make an impact on response times," Fred Antunes, deputy minister for highways and infrastructure told paNOW. "Our people are in rural areas and on the highways already and working extended hours and they'll be able to respond more quickly as back up for RCMP officers."
Antunes said there will be 25 new Highway Patrol officers ready for work in July and more were being trained to bring the total up to 50.
According to the ministry, the Highway Patrol’s primary function will still be commercial vehicle enforcement, but they will receive expanded responsibilities under their new mandate. Some of these additional responsibilities include responding to 911 calls, investigating impaired drivers, enforcing speed limits and traffic violations, responding to accidents, and investigating livestock transportation for animal health and welfare.
The officers have already received extensive training to prepare for their new role, the ministry said, including training in enhanced use of force and extra firearms training. Officers have also trained to clear buildings of suspects and conduct high-risk vehicle stops, and received training to deal with those suffering mental health issues.
"Our officers have stepped up in terms of their additonal training including in lethal force with their side arm," Blair Wagar, assistant deputy minister of planning and policy, told paNOW. "That's something the government, ministry and our officers themselves take very seriously. We want to make sure they're well-trained and confident and the public can be confident in them."
In a statement accompanying today’s announcement, SARM President Ray Orb praised the move.
“We are pleased to see the additional new officers capable of responding to incidents in rural areas,” Orb said. “Our membership has repeatedly noted that a timely response to emergency situations and addressing rural crime is a high priority.”
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