Treaty #3 deputy police chief retires

The walls in his mauve-coloured office were nearly bare last Wednesday, with just a few documents left tacked to the bulletin board by his desk, as Treaty #3’s deputy chief prepared to leave his long life of police enforcement on June 30.
But as much as he enjoyed his career, Ernie Jones definitely was looking forward to the more relaxing years which lay ahead.
“I’m planning to do as little as possible,” chuckled Jones, who has a home on Rainy Lake. “Home projects, fishing, golfing—all the good stuff.”
Also high on his priority list is spending time with his wife, children, and 11 grandchildren.
While Jones did not grow up in Rainy River District, this is where he plans on staying after retirement. “The roots are deep now,” he remarked. “And the fishing’s good.”
Jones spent his earlier years at Garden River First Nations just outside of Sault Ste. Marie, but often visited family at Couchiching. He explained his enjoyment of policing goes back to his childhood.
“I saw a lot of problems, like drinking and partying,” he conceded. “My family had our share of problems, too, and we looked for help.”
He noted if they called the police, they either didn’t respond to the call or showed up too late.
“As a young person, I thought native reserves should have their own police officers to help people,” Jones recalled, saying he also believed the reserves should be policed by native people.
“They relate a lot better to problems in the community,” he added. “The problems are the same violent calls, social problems, but the uniqueness of native people is most officers live in the community and are better aware of where the people are coming from.”
In fact, Jones remembered having to arrest people on Friday nights and then see them at the gas station the next day or in church on Sunday.
“You have to remember they are normal people and you have to be aware of the politics in the community,” he explained.
Jones got a job at the mill in International Falls, Mn. right out of college but in April, 1978, Couchiching was looking for a constable. He applied and was accepted.
And he stayed in police enforcement for the next 28 years.
“I’ve been around to see [policing] evolve,” Jones said, adding he is one of Treaty #3’s first retirees to complete his career with the enforcement agency.
He began working as a constable through the First Nation Special Constable Program, which was run and managed by the OPP. He patrolled alone at the beginning and didn’t have a gun for the first three months.
But First Nations policing developed with more officers being hired and they continued to be supplemented by the OPP.
In July, 1999, the executive council of Treaty #3 initiated direction for its own police service and consequently, nearly four years later, the Treaty #3 Police Service became Canada’s newest law enforcement agency.
Jones later was promoted from staff sergeant to deputy chief—responsible for nine reserves (from Lac La Croix to Big Island/Big Grassy) and about 20 officers.
“We don’t depend on the OPP for services like we used to,” he explained, noting now with their own police service, they are demonstrating more pro-active policing, such as bike rodeos and presentations at schools.
“And the ERT [Emergency Response Team] is constantly evolving and getting bigger,” Jones added. “The people depend on us to be there because we do have the resources to provide better policing.”
Treaty #3’s police service is hoping to continue its expansion with a new building sometime in the near future, too—one with more room and their own jail cells.
“Then we’d be totally independent,” Jones said, admitting he had thought he actually would be in a new office when he retired.
He said one of the things he is going to miss about his job is the people he has worked with.
“Also the challenge policing bring to everyday life,” he added. “It’s been an interesting span of time. I’ve enjoyed providing security and a safe place for people who need help.”
Sgt. Larry Indian from the OPP is filling in as staff sergeant for the Treaty #3 police for the time being.
“I thank my family and friends for their support throughout my career and to the police officers, especially in the early years, who helped me along,” Jones said.
“And while it was good, I’m looking forward to getting away from policing now.”