A Victoria producer is shining the spotlight on the province’s only First Nations police force through a new documentary series.
For the last few weeks, Steve Sxwithul’txw, a Cook Street Village resident, has been filming Tribal Police Files, a series focusing on the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service in Lillooet.
The tribal police force provides full policing services to 10 of 11 St’at’imc communities with two detachments in Lillooet and Mount Currie.
Unlike city policing or the RCMP, tribal police are often members of the community and become much more involved in the areas they serve, said Sxwithul’txw.
“They are a part of the community. Truly that’s what makes the difference. When you’re in the city, you don’t have time to build these relationships,” he said.
“It’s a different environment. These people are here and they’re not moving. They’re here for life. It’s a very unique service.”
Instead of being a traditional Cops-style show, the 13-episode series will feature a balance of police interacting with community members and highlight the beauty of its culture, lands, family and traditions.
The show will follow police as they respond to calls, including those on Highway 40, a notorious highway known for its dangerous roads, conduct road blocks and follow up investigations, as well as following police when they attend functions, events and pow wows in a peacekeeping capacity.
For Sxwithul’txw, it’s a cause that’s close to his heart.
He served as a police officer with the Tseulton Police Service in 1995 — a service he helped create.
He also served in Lillooet and completed his final year of policing with SkyTrain police in Vancouver.
After, he became a journalist and eventually a TV producer.
“It’s important that people know what police officers have to deal with and what they carry,” said Sxwithul’txw, adding he hopes to draw attention to how severely underfunded tribal police forces are across the country.
“It took about a year-and-a-half to two years to become Steve again. Nobody can understand that mentality until you’re there because it’s almost like that badge is stamped and tattooed on your shoulder. We want to get to the heart of these officers and show why they do what they do.”
The crew will return in the spring for another month.
Tribal Police Files will air in fall 2016 on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.