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Policing isolated Aboriginal communities: perspectives of Canadian officers

Savvas Lithopoulos (Aboriginal Policing Directorate, Public Safety Canada, Ottawa, Canada)
Rick Ruddell (Department of Justice Studies, University of Regina, Regina, Canada)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to compare the self‐reported attitudes toward Aboriginal policing of officers in isolated/remote communities with those from accessible Aboriginal communities.


Survey results are reported for 294 officers working in Aboriginal communities throughout Canada.


Officers working in remote jurisdictions tended to be younger, better educated, and had less policing experience than those working in non‐isolated Aboriginal communities. Social problems in these remote communities were thought to be more serious than those reported by officers working in accessible Aboriginal communities. Despite these demographic and contextual differences, self‐reported attitudes toward Aboriginal policing were generally similar, although officers working in isolated communities tended to report more conservative views on enforcement.

Research limitations/implications

The generalizability of the results is limited by the modest (40.7 percent) response rate, and the fact that officers working in Aboriginal agencies were less likely to participate than those working for national or provincial police services.

Practical implications

The results suggest that more effective recruiting, training, and retention strategies should be developed for officers working in Aboriginal communities.


This is the first comprehensive study of the perceptions of officers toward Aboriginal policing. While the police in isolated communities represent a small proportion of all law enforcement officers, their insight sheds light on this often misunderstood and under‐researched aspect of law enforcement.



Lithopoulos, S. and Ruddell, R. (2011), "Policing isolated Aboriginal communities: perspectives of Canadian officers", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 434-453.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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