Former Prince Albert Police Chief joins PBCN as new community safety lead

Former Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper (left) poses for a photo with PBCN Chief Karen Bird. Cooper joins the organization months after retiring from the Saskatoon Police Service. -- Submitted photo.

Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation has tapped former Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper to be their new community safety lead as part of a plan to address safety and security challenges in PBCN communities.

Cooper has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, including six years at Prince Albert police chief. Before becoming chief, he served in a variety of Prince Albert Police Service roles, including a period on an RCMP integrated drug unit, and assignments in major crimes investigations. He retired in December 2023 after six years as Saskatoon’s Police Chief.

“It’s a privilege to engage with PBCN at this critical junction,” Cooper said in a press release. “I am dedicated to addressing the immediate safety challenges at hand and to building a foundation for lasting community protection.”

Cooper will advise the PBCN Chief and Council, community members, and management teams on safety issues. He will also oversee community safety engagement, develop a community-based interagency model, and establish comprehensive safety plans.

“Our joint efforts will focus on proactive, community-driven safety strategies that will protect our communities now and ensure their resilience for the future,” Cooper said.

PBCN leadership declared a state of emergency in Pelican Narrows and Deschambault Lake following the death of a 17-year-old youth in October 2023. A 27-year-old from Deschambault Lake was charged with second degree murder in connection with the case.

During a press conference in Prince Albert in early February, PBCN Chief Karen Bird said conditions continued to decline in Pelican Narrows due to criminal activity and violent incidents.

On Thursday, PBCN leaders said they were optimistic Cooper’s approach to law enforcement and community engagement would address safety concerns in Deschambault Lake and Pelican Narrows, while also boosting overall security in all PBCN communities.

Bird said in a press release that Cooper’s appointment was a major element in PBCN’s Community Safety Implementation Plan.

“Bringing Troy Cooper on board is a pivotal step in our efforts to confront the serious issues of drugs, gangs, and violence within our communities,” she said. “His extensive policing background provides the insights and expertise we need to navigate our community toward a safer, more secure future.”

In mid-February, Saskatchewan RCMP completed a targeted enforcement project in Pelican Narrows that resulted in 12 arrests, five firearm seizures, and the confiscation of 210 grams of methamphetamines.

The higher RCMP presence was one of several new safety measures announced in response to escalating gang violence. PBCN leadership also brought in extra security to protect healthcare workers at the Pelican Narrows Emergency Operations Centre.

PBCN has 12,000 members living in nine communities spread across 51,000 sq km.