Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
RCMP cuts back

City detachment commander says number of police hasn't kept pace with calls, population growth

Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 22/02) - The Mounties won't be getting their men quite as often in Yellowknife.

Citing a rise in calls and a lack of resources, Yellowknife RCMP will be scaling back activities in the capital as of March 1.

"Everythings on the table," said Staff Sgt. Terry Scott.

That means intoxicated people wont be visiting the drunk tank as often, kids wont get as much drug education, and police wont attend all traffic accidents and property offences.

"I've been warning about this for three years," said the Yellowknife detachment commander.

"My guys are getting tired, they're getting burned out," he added.

Scott announced the changes Tuesday afternoon, less then 24 hours before NWT Finance Minister Joe Handley tabled this years territorial budget.

Scott said his officers are carrying workloads almost four times heavier than their Southern counterparts.

"I've got 268 criminal files per member," said Scott. "Compare that to the national average, which is 70," he added.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem said he met with Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew to discuss the situation.

She told me she's going to speak to the (federal) solicitor general, he added.

What benefit this will have is unclear, since policing is funded by the territorial government.

"The frustration I have is that we've got the same number of officers as we had in 1981, but we've got 8,000 more people," Van Tighem said.

Yellowknife detachment, with a paper complement of 29 members, has 19 members actively patrolling the streets.

Scott said that number has remained static for the last decade or so.

He added that, common sense would now prevail in many instances.

For example, police will now only respond to motor vehicle accidents where death or serious injury occurs.

Calls about intoxicated persons will be placed at the lowest priority level.

"I've lost two man years to dealing with nothing but drunks last year," said Scott, noting that it takes close to two hours to process a person in and out of the drunk tank.

Salvation Army Capt. Karen Hoeft noted that police have been used as an easy out, when it comes to dealing with public intoxication.

The detachment will also pull out of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program at the end of this school year.

However, Scott said police will still assign a liaison officer to each city school.