|The cover of Ernie Louttit's book|
For someone who admitted he had fears about writing a book about his career because he wouldn’t do justice to the written word, retired Saskatoon Police officer Ernie Louttit crafted a page turner.
Louttit’s book titled “Indian Ernie: Perspectives on Policing and Leadership” is his collection of stories from his time with the Saskatoon Police Service. He doesn’t hold back in telling stories you wouldn’t believe a police officer would encounter on the beat.
He was hired in 1987 as only the third native officer in the Saskatoon Police Service’s history, and he officially retired as a sergeant on Oct. 29, 2013. During that time, he gained the nickname “Indian Ernie” and became one of the most respected officers by the public in the Saskatoon Police Service.
He spent most of his career patrolling the streets of Saskatoon’s west side, which has traditionally had to deal with poverty and terrible social conditions. The area centred around 20th street, and it has been known as alphabet city, Harlem of the prairies and the hood. During the course of Louttit’s career, conditions in that neighbourhood got better.
For anybody that is entering policing as a career, Louttit’s book is a must read. Even if you are not entering policing as a career, it is still a must read just to get a glimpse of what a police officer goes through.
While you will be able to take many lessons from the book, one of the big themes Louttit passed along is the message that the Saskatoon Police Service as a whole has improved over the years.
In the first chapter, Louttit tells about the first time he encountered a “shoot or don’t shoot” situation during the start of his third year with the Saskatoon Police Service. The situation revolved around a domestic dispute at an apartment, where a man had a woman straddled on a mattress in a bedroom.
The man was trying to shove a knife into the throat of woman, who was keeping the blade away from her neck with her fingers. The two were married.
During the ordeal that ensued to arrest the man, Louttit was at one point in the process of pulling the trigger on a .38 revolver to shoot the suspect, but no shots were fired.
After the arrest, Louttit wrote about how this case began to fall apart in the courts. There were other people in apartment, and no one took statements from them. That fact was brought up in a preliminary hearing, and Louttit said he didn’t have a good answer for the Saskatoon Legal Aid defence lawyer on why no statements were taken from the other people in the apartment.
Louttit wrote, “No detectives were ever assigned to assist me, and no detectives offered to help or to provide me with advice. No one from the administration asked if I was all right. I knew I had a long road ahead of me with the Saskatoon Police Service.”
The charges were stayed at the trial in this case, when the wife failed to appear.
By the last chapter of the book, Louttit described shifts from his final years with the force as a sergeant. Some of those stories included days that were spent at the station.
From those stories, you gathered how much more of a tuned machine the Saskatoon Police Service had become with a big sense of teamwork, where Louttit was checking in and helping other officers where he could. At times, the checks with other officers just included leaving words of encouragement and asking how they were.
In between those two chapters, Louttit goes through all the ups and downs of the years on the job. One story included Louttit tracking down a pedophile at a hotel in a style worthy of Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Other stories included amazing acts of bravery Louttit saw committed by his co-workers, who stopped various individuals from committing suicide.
He also talked about his role of checking into the case of the 1990 death of Neil Stonechild and the inquiry that followed regarding how the case was handled about 13 years later.
The Stonechild Inquiry came during one of the most turbulent times of the Saskatoon Police Service, when it was under scrutiny for the “Starlight Tours.” In early 2000, two men were found frozen to death near the outskirts of the southwest side of Saskatoon.
Shortly after those discoveries, a man named Darrell Night came forward with an accusation that he had been driven out of town by two officers, dropped off in subzero temperatures and made to walk back to the city on his own. Two constables were convicted of unlawful confinement over that case.
Also in early 2000, Lloyd Dustyhorn was found frozen to death near his home shortly after being released from police custody for public intoxication.
Louttit wrote about the grief and pressure members of the Saskatoon Police Service worked under from 2000-05, which included calls for the Service to be replaced by the RCMP.
Though out all the ups and downs, Louttit’s genuine sense of love for his co-workers is evident on the pages of his book despite the challenges the Saskatoon force encountered over the years.
He closed with writing almost a passing the torch style paragraph that said, “I also know that those men and women can do their job without me, and it kind of makes me sad – in a good way. They do not need me. They’ve got it covered. Enough said.”