'If we want to recruit Inuit they have to be paid a bit better than janitors'

KRPF union rejects higher pay for rookies


Members of Nunavik's police union have rejected a plan to offer a higher pay package for rookie police, a cornerstone of the Kativik Regional Police Force's extreme makeover plan.

The Nunavik Police Association members recently voted against the management proposal to approve a higher entry-level pay scale.

That's because they're holding out for a better deal for all members in the new collective agreement, which is still under negotiation and unlikely to be wrapped up before the end of the summer.

The KRPF's interim chief, Luc Harvey and the deputy chief, Jobie Epoo, say they're disappointed the union rejected a proposal to boost recruits' pay, which was to kick-start a local recruitment drive.

"If we want to recruit Inuit they have to be paid a bit better than janitors are," Harvey told Nunatsiaq News last week. "I think it's clear we will prioritize local recruitment. We are a regional native police force after all. But the pay scale will be the same for everyone, Inuit and non-Inuit."

When the collective agreement is signed, Harvey said all police will likely receive more pay – possibly retroactively. "The good will is there," he said.

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But many members say they have no confidence in their bosses since the firing of former police chief Brian Jones last September. Four members from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Kuujjuaq, Kuujjuaraapik and Akulivik recently tendered their resignations.

"We will go forward with the police we have," Harvey said.

The number of full-time trained police on the force is now about 44, he said. The force is supposed to have 54 members.

Concrete actions are in the works to regain support of the remaining KRPF: staff units will be built in all communities lacking police housing, eight new patrol vans are set to arrive in Nunavik, and bulletproof vests, a long-standing demand of officers, are on order.

A new look for the police force is also planned, including a new KRPF logo, a change in uniform colours and fresh identification for police vans.

A restructuring of the KRPF – already underway – is also intended to modernize the police force and improve service to the public, Harvey said.

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Among the changes:

  • a new middle management level to separate police operations from the force's administration, with separate deputy chiefs of operations and administration;
  • four new captains with more responsibility over the communities in their divisions;
  • an advisory team of four retired officers from the Sûreté du Québec provincial police force to provide support with management, operations and investigations.

These changes mean about six new jobs, although most of the new staff additions won't be trained police.

The KRPF also wants to start a Nunavik-based police-training program, so Inuit recruits don't have to spend extended periods at Quebec's police academy in Nicolet. Harvey said a one-month training program in Kuujjuaq or Puvirnituq would be followed up by sessions at the police academy.

Harvey said the KRPF's makeover also includes crime prevention activities and access to the province-wide Info-Crime number, which can be used to offer tips to police.

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