Nunavik cops claim success in anti-drug activities
KANGIRSUK — Nunavik’s cops say they’re starting to make some progress in keeping narcotics out of circulation in Nunavik.
So far this year, they’ve netted three kilos of drugs and more than $10,000 in cash.
Last week in Kangirsuk, police chief Brian Jones told delegates to the Kativik Regional Government council that the combined anti-drug investigations of the regional police force and the Surêté du Québec are becoming increasingly successful.
In 1999, cops seized eight kilos of hashish, marijuana, and cocaine destined for communities along the Ungava Bay coast.
Police now receive assistance from paid informants who supply tips on shipments and traffickers’ activities.
“We’re offering money now if the information is good, and we’re starting to get a good response,” Jones said. “We’re starting to get very good information, and our credibility has improved.”
But Jones admitted that the drugs nabbed by police only represent about 10 per cent of the total amount coming into the region.
He put the street value of this illicit drug market in Nunavik at around $10 million.
Over the past year and a half, police did manage to seize around $62,000 in drug money. Last week in Kangirsuk, Quebec’s public security minister Serge Ménard confirmed that this money will be returned directly to the Kativik Regional Police Force.
“We feel the money should go back here so we can do drug prevention programs,” Jones said.
Jones also told the KRG council that police are starting to seize property or other assets acquired through drug trafficking, and use proceeds from their sales to fight drug use in the region.
At the KRG meeting, Jones also unveiled the police force’s optimistic objectives for 2000. Topping the list is a plan to set up more municipal public security committees to work on community policing. Several communities, including Quaqtaq, Tasiujaq, Inukjuak, Kangirsuk, Puvirnituq and Akulivik still lack these committees.
The KRPF will need increased support in the communities because soon, for the first time in Nunavik, police will start to enforce new municipal peace and order and traffic by-laws.
“Within a month we should have the tickets,” Jones said.
Jones said the KRPF also wants to reduce the number of conjugal violence offenses by another 10 per cent.
“We had 224 conjugal violence offenses in 1998, and 168 in 1999,” Jones said. “We’d like to take it a little lower. We feel that a 10 per cent decrease in 2000 will be a realistic target to attain.”
Puvirnituq recorded 51 conjugal assaults, the highest rate of domestic violence in Nunavik, followed by Kuujjuaq with 42 conjugal assaults.
These two communities also had the highest overall number of crimes. According to KRPF statistics, which also include suicides, Kuujjuaq police recorded a total of 963 incidents in 1999- up from 749 in 1998, while Puvirnituq had 898, up 300 from the previous year.
The KRPF, intended to be a wholly aboriginal police force, also wants to increase its Inuttitut-speaking police officers to 50 per cent in every community.
“This objective is almost attained now except for a very small number of municipalities, particularly in Puvirnituq, where special attention will have to be given,” Jones said.
Nine recruits for the KRPF finish training at Quebec’s police academy in early March. Eight are from communities along the Hudson Bay coast, which have been very poorly represented in Nunavik’s regional force.