As a new nation, after securing its independence in July 2011, South Sudan faced myriad challenges including a weak police service with minimal training.
S/Sgt. Sandy Bates was the first Toronto Police Service member to be part of the international police agency charged with the responsibility of strengthening police capacity in the landlocked African country.
She completed her 12-month assignment last January.
“I chose to go to South Sudan because none of our officers had gone there before, and I was looking for something new and different while assisting with raising the standard of policing there,” said Bates, who was based in Warrap, one of South Sudan’s 10 states. “It was a unique experience and one which helped me to grow personally.”
One of 21 police officers from around the world, Bates assisted with a homicide investigation and taught officers English, how to take statements, prisoner and cell management and evidence preservation.
“They don’t have a forensic unit as yet, but there was value in teaching them how to preserve evidence because the day will come when they will have a forensic unit,” she said.
“What we look at as basic skills here are not basic for them. It was quite a challenge working with police officers with flip-flops and no uniforms, carrying AK-47s, operating in an area with no hydro and water and dirt roads made impassable during the rainy season. It was an incredible opportunity, however, for me to work with these challenges. I didn’t change the world, but I made a small impact in the lives of police officers in that country.”
Assigned to Metro West Courts, Bates recently returned to work after breaking a leg here at home.
On Dec.10, she was recognized for her service with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal.