High school students get on-the-job training in enforcement

A bylaw officer sees his shadows


He's busted.

The green pick-up truck casually rolls through a stop sign in Iqaluit's West 40 area, and Rod Mugford, the city's chief bylaw officer, hits the flashing lights and pulls the truck over.

There's nothing much unusual about this, save the unseasonably cold and rainy weather, and the two high-school students, clad in black, who hop out of the bylaw truck and follow Mugford up to the man's window.

Mugford tells the driver who the young women are and why he pulled over the driver, who's let off with a warning.

Lisa Inuusiq Akavak, 18, and Nancy Kullualik, 19, are Inuksuk High School students shadowing Mugford this summer as he goes about his duties. They wear black clothing because there aren't uniforms available for them.

"I'm really interested in law and the justice department and anything to do with law," Akavak said. "I love it so far. I'm not stuck in the office all the time."

Travelling with bylaw officers, the students learn the finer points of municipal enforcement: bylaws, traffic stops, taxi licences and animal control. The idea is to give young people a taste of the working life of a bylaw officer.

"We try to give them as much hands-on [experience] during the 10 weeks as possible," Mugford. "Then they can make their decision career-wise if they want to move forward in some type of law enforcement or security [work]."

"We're pretty much giving them what we come in contact with on a daily basis," he said. "We're not secluding them from anything except anything we know may be potentially hazardous."

On this Monday morning there's nothing even remotely dangerous. There's a quick check of the city dog pound off Federal Road, and the driver who ran the stop sign, but other than that the morning is strictly reserved for patrol.

The check of the pound is important, Mugford said, because there have been two break-ins over the last six months involving dog owners trying to break their canine friends out of custody.

The bylaw truck makes a quick spin through the Plateau subdivision, where a busy construction season has created some problems with debris blowing into neighbouring properties and nearby streams. Next is a trip through the Tundra Valley neighbourhood, which has seen a spate of complaints about loose dogs.

Then it's back to the office at city hall, where on an average day, Akavak and Kullualik will spend a few hours filling out paperwork. Taxi permits are common this time of year, Mugford said, because new drivers move to town in the summer.

"I know paperwork is not the best thing to be doing, but the girls have been doing a great job with that," he said.

But Kullualik, who said she'd one day like to join the RCMP, isn't bothered at all.

"I thought we were going to do more paperwork," she said.

Akavak and Kullualik, who are paid for their time, will continue the job shadowing until the end of August. Mugford hopes the bylaw job shadowing becomes permanent, so the city can hire more locally-raised bylaw officers.

And next year, they might even get uniforms.

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