"Policing in Saskatchewan faces many challenges," says Rick Ruddell, associate professor in the Department of Justice Studies and the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Chair in Police Studies. "The province's population is increasing, yet we see police resources shrinking. The police are stretched thin," says Ruddell, who is currently studying issues related to policing in Saskatchewan with a focus on assisting police in improving service delivery.
Saskatchewan exhibits several key characteristics with regard to policing, according to Ruddell, including: a high rate of crime, a young and fast-growing population (demographically more crime-prone), and movements toward self-administered aboriginal policing. These characteristics, along with larger political, social and economic trends, will have a big impact on policing in this province, now and over the long term.
"Certain factors - the economic boom and population influx in Saskatchewan for instance - have nothing to do with crime but will impact policing tremendously," he says.
On November 24 Ruddell will explore these issues as he delivers the annual Gordon Wicijowski Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Chair in Police Studies lecture, and discuss the outlook for policing in Saskatchewan over the next decade. According to Ruddell, it is impossible to say for sure what impact these and other shifts - like the changing composition of the police force, emerging technology, and Prime Minister Harper's ‘tough on crime agenda' - will have.
"Forecasting the future is always an inexact science," he says, "but trying to understand it can help us manage the uncertainty."
Having previously served as director of Operational Research with the Correctional Service of Canada and with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing, Ruddell has spent many years working closely with the policing community. "This type of collaboration can benefit police services by helping assess what is and isn't working," he says. "A better and more efficient police service can only be of benefit to public safety."
What is the outlook for policing in Saskatchewan? "Expectations of police will continue to rise and police will increasingly engage in partnerships with government and community groups in order to maximize resources," he says. Yet despite careful forecasting, he says, "we'll have to expect that unforeseen events can and will occur, be they economic, political, or environmental. Just look at the impact 9/11 has had on policing. Law enforcement will need to be increasingly flexible in order to respond."
The 2011 Gordon Wicijowski Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Chair in Police Studies lecture will take place Thursday, November 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Education Building, room 191, at the University of Regina. For more information: http://www.arts.uregina.ca/general-public/public-lectures/the-law-foundation-lecture.