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Wha Ti wants police

Absent officer concerns sub-chief

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 05/01) - There's no one home at the RCMP detachment in Wha Ti.

The Dogrib communities of Wha Ti, Rae Lakes and Snare Lake share the same police officer, Cpl. Andy Ing.

But Ing is away on holidays until Nov. 20 and no one is filling his post.

In the meantime, Wha Ti sub-chief, Albert Nitsiza, fears that young people will travel by snowmobile across the ice roads to see a travelling cross in Rae.

He said the ice is not safe, so the hamlet is trying to ensure everyone flies to Rae on three charter planes.

"It's tough to monitor because we only have one detachment in Wha Ti."

Nitsiza said bootleggers move into Wha Ti when the ice roads form.

"Council has to step in when these things happen," he said. Nitsiza said parents sometimes call him in the middle of the night when the police officer is away at the other two communities.

On Halloween, he was called to a community dance because of a fight that broke out between two young men. It turned out to be a minor incident.

"At this time, right now, I think I am a police officer and a sub-chief," he said.

Nitsiza said Wha Ti needs two officers -- one in Wha Ti full-time and the other to cover Rae Lakes and Snare Lake.

"That would solve the problem, I think."

The RCMP does not have enough resources to employ police officers in all communities or send a temporary replacement.

Staff Sgt. Terry Scott, said Yellowknife received one call from Wha Ti in the two-and-a-half weeks Ing has been away.

"It's not a call that requires immediate attention," he said.

He said one police officer communities aren't new.

"This is exactly the way we've done it for years."

He added that, in emergencies, the RCMP sends officers from Yellowknife, even when Ing is there.

"Frankly, I don't see it as a problem," he said.

Sgt. Phil Johnson said the RCMP is working with the GNWT to eliminate one police officer communities.

"We'd like to see more police officers in all the communities, but it's not always possible," he said.

For now, council in Wha Ti is taking matters into its own hands. The community charter council hopes to pass a bylaw to hire a young man trained in bylaw enforcement.

They already have someone in mind and the bylaw has passed two readings.

Community groups and the hamlet will foot the costs.

Council is seeking public input before the third reading.

The bylaw officer will enforce an 11 p.m. curfew for kids under 16, monitor community buildings and make sure young people don't drive snowmobiles on the ice roads at night.