Beauval mayor criticizes RCMP handling of teen’s escape
Calls Mounties’ reaction ‘on the edge of incompetence’
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
CBC News [Saskatchewan]
The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] should have notified people sooner about the escape of teenager in custody who was later found frozen to death, the mayor of a northern Saskatchewan town says.
“I would call it on the edge of incompetence,” Beauval Mayor Alex Maurice said.
The 19-year-old from the Canoe Lake First Nation in the province’s northwest was arrested early Saturday morning after RCMP received a complaint of an intoxicated person.
According to police, the man was taken to the detachment in Beauval and when the arresting officer left the man alone for a minute in the back of the car, the man ran off.
Temperatures were well below freezing at the time.
The RCMP said they immediately searched for more than an hour. They then switched gears and started knocking on doors, but there was no sign of the man.
Members of the Canoe Lake First Nation formed a search party the next day and found the body of the man — an apparent victim of the cold — on a snowmobile trail seven kilometres from town.
The man’s name hasn’t been released.
An autopsy has been ordered. It’s not believed there was foul play, police said.
Maurice said RCMP should have notified locals sooner. The man’s family didn’t find out he had been missing for over 12 hours, he said.
If people had known, a search party could have been organized sooner, he said.
“I don’t think he was a dangerous offender or anything, and in the middle of winter, common sense should have prevailed on the part of the RCMP,” Maurice said.
Maurice accused the RCMP of ignoring local trackers who believed the man had walked out of town.
“Within an hour and a half, these Canoe Lake elders and the people who did the search party, within an hour and a half of starting the search party, they found him frozen to death,” he said.
An outside police force will be brought in to oversee the investigation.
Beauval is about 450 kilometres north of Saskatoon.