Starlight Tours

Posted: October 6, 2011 by gossal91 in Starlight Tours

“Starlight Tours”, also called “Ride in the country” or “scenic tours”, occur when police officers drive aboriginal men who are under the influence out to the middle of nowhere and tell them to sober up and walk back home  (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). This practice can result in individuals freezing to death. Starlight tours mainly take place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where temperatures can drop well below freezing, especially in the middle of the night. The RCMP usually drop off these aboriginal men in the middle of the night so no one will be able to see them. After conducting some preliminary research on this topic, I believe that the reason that RCMP members engage in this practice is to illustrate their power and to teach the men a lesson. Sakej Henderson, who teaches native law, states that “starlight tours grew out of police frustration at dealing with repeat offenders and they weren’t all sinister. Indians avoided jail and police avoided a paper headache”(http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). Essentially, Henderson argues that starlight tours emerged as an alternative to taking people into custody, and therefore a way to avoid paperwork and court processes. These “starlight tours” usuallly took place at around anywhere between 12am-3am in the early morning. There is no agreed-upon record of  how many incidents there were in total but, native leaders said that they have received over 250 calls about being on ‘tours’ (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). My preliminary research has not revealed whether or not this practice is ongoing, but  I believe that the increased awareness of tours may make them less likely to occur.

The citizens of Saskatoon always had speculations of this type of deviance and thought it was a myth until one aboriginal man named Greg came forward and said that he had been a victim of this practice before (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html). Greg stated that he had been on four starlight tours in his life. The CBC interviewer asked Greg why he didn’t make a complaint to the police and Greg answered back saying, “If I’d launched a complaint, in my mind, it would never have went anywhere. It was just. It’s the same thing: it’s police investigating police; they’re a brotherhood” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html).  The Saskatoon RCMP chief Dave Scott suspended two RCMP officers who were involved in the Starlight Tours drop-offs but chief Scott still cannot make a connection to the two dead aboriginal men.

A web search for ‘Starlight Tours’ returned 6, 400, 000 results. The types of websites that came up included  CBC News, Wikipedia, aptn.ca, youtube and the bukowskiagency.com. Most of the content and information was recent and only dated back until 2004. CBC.ca is the first web link that shows up in the search on the first page. It is a reliable source of information on the Starlight Tours. CBC.ca is media based information which gives a wide grasp of the topic. CBC.ca gives their own analysis on the story and follows up by interviewing the victims and asking the victims questions on what had happened to them. The second web link that appears is wikipedia.org right under CBC.ca. Wikipedia starts off by giving a definition of “Starlight Tours” and a brief summary of the story. Wikipedia does not go into too much depth in the story as it only gives a brief summary in the beginning paragraph and a section for pop-culture which inspired the movie “First Blood”. The third web link is an aboriginal based web-site which is www.aptn.ca. Aptn.ca contains a video link that shows one victim who spoke to reporters that he had been taken by the RCMP and dumped at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Under the video link is a synopsis explaining what is in the video. Another website called www.doubletounged.org gives a broader definition of Starlight Tours. The main source of information is basically structured by the media and gives the most knowledge on the topic.

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    How can we classify Starlight Tours in relation to typologies of police deviance? Consider Punch’s review of various categories of corruption – or the work of Dean, Bell, and Lauchs on the sliding scale. Where does this practice fit in? Situating it within a framework will help us to make sense of the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.

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