Full day of Iqaluit traffic stops set for Dec. 1

“We still have the option to make a blood demand and there are additional officers going out for those screening purposes”

Watch out, drivers. Members of the Iqaluit RCMP will set up periodic and random traffic stops on Dec. 1. (FILE PHOTO)

By COURTNEY EDGAR

In time for the Christmas season, RCMP will be setting up periodic and random traffic stops around the city of Iqaluit.

Dec. 1 kicks off the start of National Impaired Driving Week. Every RCMP detachment in Nunavut is required to be out that day to enforce the new impaired driving bylaws, Staff-Sgt. Garfield Elliott said at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

“It will be a good work environment working with our bylaw partners,” Elliott said.

Since Iqaluit is smaller than other cities and social media makes it easy for people to know where a traffic stop is, the RCMP officers will set up several different short-term patrols where they see a lot of traffic that day.

They will also do roving patrols, stopping vehicles at random, as well as checking on stopped vehicles.

Back in September, Elliott says he told the city he did not believe there would be a big difference in the amount of impaired driving cases with the legalization of cannabis. He said on Tuesday night that he still stands by that.

Since the legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17, there have been two impaired driving convictions related to drug use.

The RCMP is still waiting to receive all of its roadside testing instruments, which will be used to swab the mouths of drivers suspected of drug impairment.

“They should be coming in shortly,” Staff-Sgt. Garfield Elliott said.

In most cases of impaired driving, the signs and symptoms of impairment are overwhelming, he said, so they tend so far to go with an impaired driving charge rather than making a demand for a blood sample to test the THC.

“But we still have the option to make a blood demand and there are additional officers going out for those screening purposes,” Elliott said.

Additionally, Iqaluit’s RCMP has hired three new members in the last month.

“All three are very sharp and they are adapting to the pace at the detachment,” Elliott said.

There are a few other employee transfers pending, scheduled to be hired in mid-December and January.

Elliott says the Iqaluit RCMP is “supported by management to stay sufficiently resourced and meet the needs.”

City councillor Joanasie Akumalik asked Elliott if officers are receiving any cultural sensitivity training and Elliott said they do.

Any new cadets take cross-cultural training called Aboriginal Perceptions, which is based on First Nations cultures. According to Elliott, “a good portion” of RCMP staff have already taken this course.

As well, an Inuit-specific version of this training is in the final stages of development, said Elliott. This new cultural-sensitivity RCMP training will be available in January.

“It is an important aspect that every member, not just in Iqaluit, but in our division will be required to take,” Elliott said.

“Even though we are mandated by our management that we have to take it, we have an appetite within our membership that we want to take it to learn. I think that is going to go a long way in being able to understand where we are today and how we got here.”

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