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Top NWT cop wants more Indigenous officers
Jamie Zettler says RCMP is hiring and encourages all those who want to become police to apply

John McFadden
Northern News Services
Monday, October 2, 2017

The commander of the RCMP's 'G' Division, which covers the entire NWT, wants to make one thing abundantly clear - the Mounties in the territory are hiring.

NNSL photograph

RCMP Chief Superintendent Jamie Zettler says he would like to hire more Indigenous officers saying they can bring a more familiar perspective to policing in the NWT, specifically the communities. Zettler took over as commander of RCMP's G Division in December. He oversees 21 detachments. - John McFadden/NNSL photo

Chief Superintendent Jamie Zettler made that clear to News/North in an interview prior to a media report last month showing that there were 18 vacant positions for the RCMP in the territory - or almost nine per cent of the Mounties' 203 positions in the NWT.

Zettler said that he is committed to fully staffing the police service in the NWT as well as trying to add more Indigenous officers if possible. Currently, just under 13 per cent of the RCMP officers identify as Indigenous - well below the more than 50 per cent of NWT residents who identify as Indigenous.

"We are actively recruiting in the North and across the country. We are open for business. If anybody has interest in joining the RCMP then is the place to go. We have a proactive recruiter in this division who goes out to communities and work fairs," Zettler said. "Aboriginal recruiting has come up as a priority for all of us. There are benefits including the strong likelihood that there is going to be some local language skills that come with Indigenous people from the communities. That will be beneficial for us. There's also the cultural aspect that is going to be beneficial for us as an organization."

Zettler said that the relationship that the Mounties have with Indigenous people is key to policing in the North. He suggested that having an Indigenous member in all the communities would be ideal but is not always possible.

"We may have to respond to a community as to why (Indigenous) member X is being transferred out of a community. But my hope as that when we transfer out an aboriginal member - another aboriginal member takes their place. That's one bonus of our organization that we move people through these communities," Zettler said. "I understand the communities sometimes think that good members move too quickly but I'm not afraid to say that they are always pounding on my door when they have a member they don't like and want them out."

Zettler oversees 21 detachments, 11 of which are in remote, fly-in communities.

Zettler said that the key for him in working with aboriginal people and communities is communication. To that end, he said that he has had several meetings with Indigenous leaders from across the territory. He has also visited almost all the detachments in the NWT. He said his goal is to make it to very detachment in the territory at least once a year.

Zettler said he has settled into his role as the top cop in the NWT quite nicely. He took over the reins last December. This is his second tour of duty in the territory having been in charge of the South District from 2011 to 2013, He has worked in other remote areas of the country including Newfoundland and Labrador as well as northern B.C.

Zettler said this is actually his 14th posting with the RCMP which he joined in 1990.

He is a married father of two children who grew up in southwestern Ontario.

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