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Thu., Oct. 8
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Mohawk Constable Michael Biron reassigned to new duties


MASSENA — Akwesasne Mohawk Police Constable Michael A. Biron has been temporarily reassigned from patrolling the territory.

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne spokesman Brendan F. White confirmed Friday afternoon that Mr. Biron has been reassigned from his former police duties for “an indefinite period of time” away from the reservation.

Police Chief Jerry Swamp said Mr. Biron is still with the department, but has been sent to undergo training for new duties he will have there.

“He won’t be on the road anytime soon,” Mr. Swamp said. “It’s due to the other duties that he’s going to be required to do.”

The department had been working on Mr. Biron’s reassignment for some time before the recent controversy surrounding the Medal of Bravery award from the governor general of Canada he received last week, Mr. Swamp said.

“This was something that had been worked on in the past,” he said.

He declined comment on when the department reassigned Mr. Biron, calling it “an operational issue.”

Mr. White had no further comment on where Mr. Biron had been reassigned or when.

“Civil action prevents me from commenting further,” Mr. White said in an email.

Mr. Biron had been in a high-speed police pursuit on Cornwall Island in November 2008. The suspect in the pursuit, Dany Gionet, slammed into a car carrying Edward and Eileen Kassian of Massena, killing all three.

The governor general of Canada awarded the medal to Mr. Biron last week for attempting to save the Kassians from their burning vehicle. The award drew the ire of the Kassian family and others in the Akwesasne community who felt he was responsible for causing their deaths.

Mr. and Mrs. Kassian’s son, Douglas, expressed relief at Mr. Biron’s reassignment.

“Just maybe somebody else will be safe from what it is he’s been doing,” he said. “That should be a relief to the community as well.”

Still, Mr. Kassian wondered how much the governor general’s office investigated Mr. Biron before honoring him, since no one apparently contacted his employers about it. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and Akwesasne Mohawk Police Commission and department issued a joint statement Thursday saying they did not participate in the nomination process.

“Who did they check with?” Mr. Kassian asked. “Let’s see their guidelines. They certainly must have written guidelines.”

Marie-Pierre Belanger, a media relations officer to the secretary to the governor general, said a detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Chancellery of Honours completes a review of each of the nominees.

“Witnesses, investigators and police officers are contacted as part of the research process,” she said in an email. “The normal nomination and file review process was followed.”

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