RCMP plans Iqaluit-wide consultation

“Inform your staff that they are in a cross-cultural situation,” city councillor says


The RCMP plans to hold a consultation with people in Iqaluit next fall to

The RCMP plans to hold a consultation with people in Iqaluit next fall to “provide input as to what they see are the issues in Iqaluit.” (FIL E PHOTO)

Increased police visibility, improved communication in Inuktitut, and the possibility of a neighbourhood-watch program: these were among the suggestions made to police by Iqaluit city councillors during a March 26 council meeting.

Their suggestions came after RCMP Staff Sgt. Monty Lecomte and Cst. Marc Tremblay told councillors about the start of the V Division’s annual performance plan, which sets priorities for the police force’s work in Iqaluit.

Part of the plan calls for a community consultation meeting in the city, Tremblay said.

That would allow everyone in Iqaluit, from elders to youth to elected officials, to “come together and provide input as to what they see are the issues in Iqaluit, and come up with possible solutions that the police service could implement.”

The meeting would take place some time in the fall, Tremblay said.

But the councillors were ready to weigh in with suggestions right away.

Pointing to complaints from residents about drug-dealing and loitering around the city’s two main stores, Coun. Kenny Bell told the officers that more police presence in public areas could discourage illegal activity and improve safety for children and families.

Coun. Mark Morrissey agreed, pointing to the incidence of breaking-and-entry crimes. Morrissey added that he would like to see longer postings for officers “well-acquainted with the public, who are interested in staying” in Iqaluit, as a way of improving the effectiveness of police work.

Lecomte told Bell the RCMP is in the process of putting extra staff out on patrols.

To Morrissey, he answered that posting times for RCMP members in Iqaluit are now three years, up from two years.

But longer postings may do too little to overcome communication barriers with Iqaluit’s Inuit residents, particularly Inuktitut speakers who don’t speak English, according to comments from Coun. Mary Wilman.

There are not enough Inuktitut-speakers ready to take calls to police, Wilman said.

Failing to reach an Inuktitut-speaker after a few attempts usually discourages caller. That keeps up cultural barriers, she said.

“So if you can inform your staff that they are in a cross-cultural situation, maybe they will be more aware” – and able to act, she said.

Lecomte said the detachment has three members who are fluent in Inuktitut.

But these members should be available at night, when complaints are usually more common, Wilman said.

Coun. Terry Dobbin would like to see a neighbourhood-watch program to increase public safety/

These kinds of programs are a good idea, Lecomte said, but are essentially “community-driven.”

The RCMP’s role in such a program would be in the initial set-up, leaving community members to run them.

“A lot of the time for neighbourhood watch, what I have found with other communities is that the citizens will donate their time, but sometimes they have trouble donating their gasoline” – or other personal resources in the effort, Lecompte said.

Partnerships with the city and community organizations are needed to keep such programs running, he said, adding start-up help could be considered in the police performance plan.

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