Conservation officers in Saskatchewan will now have an expanded mandate to enforce the laws for more than just fish and game.
"Late last year," explained Lindsey Leko Game Warden with the Ministry of Environment, "the provincial government came up with a plan to address rural crime in Saskatchewan. Part of that discussion involved the introduction of a Protection and Response Team and that response team included conservation officers, commercial vehicle division, some additional RCMP officers and some municipal police forces in Saskatchewan."
"The authority has always been there and a lot of our training has already been there but it wasn't really a mandated duty. This is not to say by any means that our new mandate is going to be driving down Highway 39 looking for people not wearing their seatbelts or doing speeding enforcement but much of our duties revolve around rural Saskatchewan if we happen to find some of these offences in rural Saskatchewan, we'll now be called upon to act on them."
He added that officers have received training on automated license plate readers, alcohol-related driving offences and will be able to fully support and assist RCMP in any calls when needed to.
"Now we're trained with detection of alcohol and each officer has now been issued a roadside screening device to help detect impaired drivers."
"We've had our use of force training with pistols, defensive tactics, all those different types of disciplines. It only makes sense, if we're out in the field and we could respond to a B&E or an assault or anything like that, it makes sense for us to do that. It's not saying that we're going to be taking over the case, the RCMP will ultimately be responsible for the file, but if we can provide a quick response or provide a deterrent out in the field by people knowing that we're going to respond, it makes sense to us."
He added that they're always had the same authority as the RCMP but people don't usually associate them with that type of work.
"Our mandate is not going to change, we're still going to be out there doing the fish and wildlife stuff. These are just going to be some more duties that are thrown on to our plate that we'll be asked to look out for."
So don't be alarmed if someone other than the RCMP pulls you over for speeding on the highways.
"I've stopped people in the past. I have an unmarked truck and I've had people pass me on the highway like I'm standing still. We have a duty to stop that. We have lots of different tools at our disposal, we'll do our best to use them all."