Nunavimmiut shoulder human cost of police force cuts
KRPF cuts back on arrests
Don't arrest anyone unless it's absolutely necessary.
That's what the Kativik Regional Police Force management told the ranking officers during a recent meeting in Kuujjuaq, says a member of the KRPF.
A further memo sent to regular members told them not to enforce municipal by-laws restricting alcohol or to seize drugs.
Nunavik's cash-strapped police force wants to keep transportation costs down and save on manpower during the summer by reducing the numbers of arrests – even in domestic violence cases where women and children may be at continued risk.
The order to ease off on arrests comes at a time when the KRPF is eager to hand over more responsibility to the Sûreté du Québec for dealing with violent crime in the region.
This week, the SQ took over policing in Ivujivik, Akulivik and Umiujaq.
In June, KRPF deputy chief Jobie Epoo admitted to the regional government council that his officers are not adequately trained to handle the toughest cases and that the KRPF is seeking to expand the provincial police force's role in Nunavik.
Meanwhile, crown prosecutors have apparently been pushing for the SQ to be more involved in criminal cases, so the charges against alleged offenders aren't thrown out in court.
Some police, who asked to remain unidentified because they're not allowed to speak to reporters, say fewer arrests won't likely improve conditions in communities where municipal leaders complain the drug trade is out of control.
A source within the KRPF told Nunatsiaq News that an officer selected for one of the force's four new captain positions decided not to accept the higher position because he felt he could not agree to not arrest lawbreakers.
Some Nunavimmiut charged with offenses such as impaired driving, escaping from the custody of a police officer, assault on a police officer, obstructing justice and some drug-related charges in 2006 had their cases dismissed, presumably because police who made the arrests weren't properly sworn in.
KRPF members, disgruntled by the upheavals in the force over the past year, say there are still many irregularities in how police are sworn in.
The SQ's background checks are taking too much time, they say, due to delays in receiving information from the KRPF. This means some police contracts are extended beyond the four-month grace period, leaving members of the force on the job, but not properly sworn in.
This means these KRPF members may act like police officers, but lack the proper credentials.
The SQ arrived to take over policing in the region last September after it was revealed only six of the KRPF's 54 officers and special constables had their paperwork in order and had been legally sworn in as police officers.
The SQ moved its members out in November, but a few months later, some returned to Ivujivik and Salluit when the departure of KRPF members left these two communities under-policed.
Retired SQ officers, whose salaries are paid for by Quebec, are now in Kuujjuaq and Kuujjuaraapik as advisors and backups to the KRPF. This week, the SQ also returned to take over in Ivujivik, Akulivik and Umiujaq.
Now there's speculation among KRPF members that they'll never get to live in the new houses being built in Nunavik communities for police.
They say that, as soon as these long-awaited units are finished, the SQ plans to return, perhaps to work alongside members of the KRPF who would only have responsibility to handle summary offenses.
The continuing turmoil within the KRPF comes at a time when many police want to go on holidays, leaving detachments understaffed, and hard-pressed, for instance, to escort arrested offenders to preventive custody in Amos.
Several Nunavik communities are also suffering from trade in harder drugs, which seem to be escaping the scrutiny of the KRPF.
This week, however, police did seize 18 pounds of marijuana and four grams of cocaine in Salluit.
Cocaine is a growing concern for municipal leaders in Puvirnituq, where a little less than a gram of coke sells for about $50.
Cocaine consumption was recently identified as the cause of one young user's overdose. Some say drugs also were involved in a recent suicide.