Though he's been a staple for the Manitoba First Nation Police Service for years, it's been almost 12 months since Acting Police Chief Bruno Rossi took over operations.
Rossi started with the Dakota Ojibway Police Service before merging with MFNPS. He took stints in Alberta before transitioning back to Manitoba in 2012. Rossi flew through the ranks, rising to sergeant of the Sandy Bay detachment, then an inspector of operations, before becoming the acting police chief. He says there have been a lot of compents to learn, but it's been a smooth transition.
"I see the other side of things now with being on the management side, but I love it," says Rossi. "I've got 20 years of service, and I'm looking forward to the next 10. I'm only the acting chief of police, but hopefully, things work out for me. So, I could be solidified as the chief of
police for the service."
During his tenure, Rossi has welcomed in a new Crime Reduction Team. The team's mandate is to enhance the safety and well-being of the First Nations communities that the MFNPS serve. Rossi says the team isn't just for fighting crime.
"We want to get the community, and we want to get to the community to know us," says Rossi. "We're not about putting a member in the community and moving him in two years. We like them to stay 5-10 years so that the community gets to know them, they get to know their community, and things work better."
The CRT provides tactical, investigative and operational support to front-line general patrol members in conducting investigations that require a specialized and coordinated response. Rossi says the aim is to not just make arrests, but to work with communities to provide grassroots supports.
One other large undertaking the MFNPS has committed to is to be a presence in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Members recently opened the branch and began operating in mid-April. Rossi says the general feedback about their presence is positive.
"They know we're there, and we're working with them.
We'll have them communicate with leadership out there, such as chiefs of the communities. We'll do check stops, crime prevention, and we'll go into schools," says Rossi. "It's a great initiative that we've implemented. Not many other police services have done this in the First Nation area. We're the first in Manitoba, and for First Nations, it's been great. Our guys wear different colour uniforms. They wear a Grey one, which shows they're part of the crime reduction team."
He adds, the team at OCN is handpicked, and the members up there are happy to be of service. One thing the MFNPS is adapting to is the change to the Cree culture. Rossi says now the MFNPS wants to expand even more.
"We're giving the communities their choice of policing because all along, they've only had one choice. So, we offered the second choice, and now that's us," says Rossi. "So, we hope to do that for more communities in Manitoba. Sadly, some communities don't get that choice, and they have to go with the police service of the day for them. But, we're offering that second choice, and that's our goal."
Another huge change for the police service is being bumped up to level one intelligence. Rossi further outlines what this means for the MFNPS.
"In the past, we were level two, so we wouldn't get the intelligence that bigger police services were getting. Now, we're getting it because we have our detective section here. The two detectives we have worked hard, and we owe it all to them," says Rossi. "They've helped build this status for us, and it's a great feeling to be at that level like the big services, especially First Nations."