Calls to police in Iqaluit escalated this summer

“This summer, one night, we had 52 calls…”

RCMP Staff Sgt. Garfield Elliott gave an update on crime statistics and new hires at the Aug. 27 Iqaluit City Council meeting. (File photo)

By Elaine Anselmi

The warm weather has signalled an increase in calls to the RCMP in Iqaluit, Staff Sgt. Garfield Elliott told city council at its Aug. 27 meeting.

“It used to be an anomaly to hit 30 calls in summer months during our nightshift,” Elliott told mayor and council. “This summer, one night, we had 52 calls and last weekend we hit 40.”

In fact, the calls reached into the 40s twice this spring and summer, over 12-hour periods.

Elliott provided crime statistics up until July 31, with updates on a few cases that didn’t make the numbers, either because they were after that cut-off date or remain under investigation.

One such event was the death of an Igloolik man outside the elders’ qammaq in early August.

The autopsy was completed and a toxicology report requested, but the man’s death is still being investigated by the major crimes unit.

Arson remains a significant concern in Iqaluit for the year to date, following last year’s shocking uptick. In 2016, there were four cases of arson on the record and eight in 2017.

In 2018, this number grew to 23.

Several of the fires this year weren’t yet factored into the RCMP statistics: the source of a shack fire on the beach over the Canada Day long weekend is undetermined because of the severe damage it caused, leaving little to investigate.It was, however, deemed suspicious, Elliott said.

Beyond arson, already this year, there have been more than 1,400 counts of mischief, 643 assaults, as well as 108 counts of operating a vehicle while impaired.

Councillor Joanasie Akumalik brought up the idea of officers on bike patrol and foot patrol in Iqaluit. It’s something he said he had suggested some years ago to no avail.

“I really truly believe foot patrol and bike patrol would be effective in this community,” said Akumalik. “Especially this time of year.”

Two years ago, Akumalik said, he was told the program was in the works and the officers were being trained.

“If that was the case, they would be on bikes by now,” Akumalik said.

He added that this summer he saw two officers playing basketball with youth outside Nakasuk School.

“That was really good for the community,” he said, underscoring the need for fewer barriers between officers and community members.

Elliott responded that the detachment is basically doing everything it can just to maintain policing services, with limited resources at their disposal, and even fewer than in previous years.

Additional officers are joining the detachment this summer and fall: six have already arrived and another three are en route—one by way of Hall Beach.

“For every one of these people coming in, I have someone going out,” said Elliott. “There are a couple filling vacancies, but mostly they are replacing those going out.”

With more resources and officers on the ground, Elliott said, they would be able to get into “more proactive instead of reactive policing.”

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(5) Comments:

  1. Posted by Tommy on

    Those kind of remarks usually get demands to resign for failure to reduce crime infested communities. But this RCMP in the Territory of Iqaluit.

  2. Posted by Putuguk on

    Iqalungmuit should at least consider the possibility that a rise in calls to the RCMP is a good thing. The vast majority of calls, 1400, were related to mischief.

    That means;
    a. private citizens saw someone, probably a youth, doing something they should not be doing, b. thought it was wrong and ought not to be tolerated or condoned, c. thought the police could and should do something about it, d. were willing to get involved, e. did not have fear of informing the police, either from the police themselves, or other community members, and f. the police responded.

    For this whole string of occurrences to happen, people need to care about their community, property and victims, the behavior of others, and have some faith and confidence in the police to address the situation.

    If things are not being reported and responded to by the police, peace and order will have taken a step back in the capital city, as this could signal people giving up caring, or the police not being considered part of the solution.

    Even without foot patrols and other community outreach, people in Iqaluit seem to value the policing service and are willing to use it.

  3. Posted by Duffman on

    At least we can buy more beer and wine now, one case 24 a day. It sure helps.

    • Posted by Withheld on

      That happened a year ago… you can’t blame that for the sudden spike.

      • Posted by thirst on

        Yeah, you can blame it on that. Calls have actually been steadily increasing since it opened. I have never seen so many people walking around drinking beer out on the street and on the beach. And it isn’t the fault of the police. It isn’t up to them to determine how many police officers are assigned to Nunavut. It is up to the government to budget for that. Maybe communities like Iqaluit and Kugluktuk and other ones that have had a huge increase in calls since liquor restrictions were lifted and the beer store opened should be allotted some money for more police.
        I enjoy the beer store for my personal use, but I cannot deny that it has resulted in a rise in calls to the police. I’ve seen people who rarely drink or who have quit drinking, staggering around with beer cans, yelling and screaming.

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