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Indigenous police on Manitoulin Island creating first full-time drug enforcement unit

The United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishnaabe Police crest on the sleeve of Chief of Police James Killeen during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday, June 12, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press) The United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishnaabe Police crest on the sleeve of Chief of Police James Killeen during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday, June 12, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
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The United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Anishnaabe Police announced Monday it is creating its first full-time drug enforcement unit on the island.

An undated photo of an UCCM Anishnaabe Police vehicle. (File photo/Supplied/UCCM Anishnaabe Police)

The unit will focus on combatting organized crime and drug and human trafficking.

"Since 2021, UCCM Anishnaabe Police’s drug enforcement investigations have resulted in 85 people being charged with over 363 criminal and drug offences and the seizure of illegal and prescription drugs with a street value over $854,000," police said in a news release.

"Twenty-two of the individuals charged with drug offences by UCCM Anishnaabe Police since 2021 were from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)."

Derek Assiniwe, the chair of the UCCM Police Service Commission, said residents have been asking for help in keeping drugs out of the community.

"A full-time drug unit on Manitoulin Island will make the communities we serve, and all communities on the Island, safer,” said Police Chief James Killeen.

"Drug activity is not limited to our communities. It crosses municipal borders and is connected to drug and gang activity throughout Ontario."

The prohibition on specialized Indigenous police services was lifted in June 2023 by former Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino paving the way for the new unit.

"We have been fighting to change the discriminatory terms and conditions of our funding, which prevented us from creating specialized units," Assinewe said.

"Now that we’ve gotten some changes from the federal government, we can take this important step to make Manitoulin Island a safer, better place.”

The new unit will start with five full-time officers and the UCCM Anishinaabe Police is looking both internally and externally to fill those positions.

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