Nunavik regional police officers to be armed with revolvers
Kativik regional government accepts a plan to arm regular constables for the first time in the history of the force
PUVIRNITUQ — The Kativik Regional Government last week accepted a plan that will see police in Nunavik wearing sidearms within the year.
“All the communities are unanimous in their support,” said the Johnny Adams, chairman of the Kativik Regional Government.
Nunavik police are the only peace officers in Quebec who don’t carry service revolvers. Up until now, constables have only had access to heavy 12-gauge shotguns for emergency use.
But the number of gun-related incidents they must respond to is on the rise.
“We strongly feel that the safety of our police officers and members of our communities is the most important issue concerning this file,” the committee studying the issue of firearms told KRG councilors when they met last week in Puvirnituq.
According to the committee’s recommendations, Nunavik police should carry guns “only if the need arises.” Otherwise, they’ll keep them under lock and key. Adams said the details have still to be worked out, but the plan to arm police officers will move ahead.
“Firearms will not be issued until the time our constables are qualified in the handling of firearms and are mentally able to handle situations involving firearms,” reported the committee.
Monitor gun use
Each regular constable with the Kativik Regional Police Force (KRPF) will be assigned a gun, but they will have to take tests to prove they know how to handle and maintain them. They’ll also have to fill out a report each time they use a weapon in the course of their duties.
“I think we’re taking the right approach,” Brian Jones, new KRPF chief said. “I think we’re going into it with our eyes open and slowly we’ll get everyone used to it.”
Some councilors expressed concern about how police would carry and store their sidearms.
But KRG chairman Adams said that such concern was misplaced.
“I think we should be more worried about the people, the hunters, who may be careless,” Adams said. “It’s these guns we need to worry about.”
Kativik police will also help implement the new federal law on gun control in Nunavik.
The council also heard from Paulusi Novalinga, president of Nunavik’s Anguvigak Hunters and Trappers Association. Novalinga said his organization opposes banning convicted criminals from the possession of guns.
“This person has to feed his family,” Novalinga told the regional council. “We have to eat country foods.”
The new head of the Kativk police force, a member of the Malecite First Nation from Quebec’s Lower North Shore, has lived in Kuujjuaq for eight years.
Although Jones, 36, supports the use of sidearms, he said he does not favour their use.
“I’m a strong believer in trust,” Jones said. “If he [an offender] is treated with respect, he’s not going to go and get a gun and shoot you. Guns are a last resort. You use them when you have no place to run.”