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Four cops with different jobs

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 25/03) - Even a straight-forward murder investigation where many people witness the crime can be time-consuming says Const. Jason Doucet.

Doucet is a plainclothes officer who works in the Yellowknife RCMP detachment's general investigation section.

"There may have been 100 people on the street that saw it. That's 100 people we have to speak to."

Then, there are the more complicated investigations, the "whodunits."

Police comb the crime scene looking for clues and count on the public to supply tips and cooperate with the police.

"The smallest detail might turn a case that we haven't solved," he said.

Doucet and other members of the general investigation section focus on major thefts, robberies, serious sexual assaults, murder cases -- or any other investigation that requires more time.

Const. Chris Worden is a regular detachment officer, who responds to calls -- most of them alcohol related. Yellowknife is his first posting and the busy detachment puts new cops on a steep learning curve.

"You have to learn the ropes with the RCMP and all the intricacies of the law. But you also have to learn how to prioritize quickly."

"We get a variety of calls form a variety of people looking for different things from us."

Sometimes, especially in domestic assault cases, officers have to go beyond what the victims want.

In many cases, victims don't want their spouses charged, but the RCMP's zero tolerance policy on domestic violence mandates the RCMP to press charges.

"While our actions don't meet with what the victims want, we do believe we do it in their best interest," he said.

As a police officer, he's been exposed to an often unpleasant side of life.

"After a busy night of responding to alcohol problems and fights, it's so nice to come home to a quiet house where somebody loves you. I think (the job) helps you appreciate the little things in life."

Val Gordon decided to become an auxiliary police officer after hearing about the RCMP's manpower shortage from her husband, who works for the RCMP.

Once or twice a month, she works alongside a regular officer.

"We're basically backup."

Gordon has two children, one about to enter his teenage years.

"It has given me a good idea of what to expect when they are teenagers."

So she'll know what to watch out for?

"Yes," she said with a laugh. "I've already told him. I'm going to be doing this until you're out of the house."

Insp. Paul Richards arrived in town earlier this year from Ottawa and is Yellowknife's new detachment commander.

Among other tasks, Richards oversees the quality of investigations, consults with the public, deals with complaints and other feedback, and makes sure new officers get the right training.

"We have a very young detachment," he said. "Young people bring a lot of energy to the job. But I also want to see that they are mentored and coached."

In a place like Yellowknife, young officers develop quickly, he said. "They are exposed to such a wide variety and high volume of crime."

As a manager, he sometimes misses the satisfaction that comes working directly on investigations. But helping young officers develop is just as satisfying.

And he still works the occasional evening shift, he said.

"I am a member of this community now. I have a vested interest in it just as much as any other person."