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Citizen recruit learns RCMP ropes

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 15/06) - Gerald Tetlichi is Yellowknife's latest citizen constable. The second round of the RCMP Access Program (RAP) has just begun and Tetlichi has hit the ground running.

The RAP program began last year. It is a joint project between the RCMP and the NWT Department of Justice designed to help people of aboriginal ancestry become police officers.

Tetlichi, who is from Fort McPherson, knew he wanted to be a RCMP officer when he was 16. His hockey team was coached by one.

"I loved their lifestyle," said Tetlichi, now 21. "They worked, spent time with their families, and volunteered in the community to help keep kids out of trouble."

The access program seemed like a great opportunity, he said.

There are now seven participants in the program, said Insp. Michael Payne, the program's co-ordinator. Only two of the seven train full-time. The rest attend workshops and training after work hours.

Tetlichi is the first full-time participant on the job. His colleague will arrive in the new year.

Over two days, he accompanied RCMP officers on patrol, attended media briefings, observed administration and journeyed into the belly of the courthouse to see how prisoners are moved to and from the courtrooms.

He also had the chance to observe the show cause hearing of a young offender charged with stealing a snowmobile.

"It's really interesting," he said, in the courthouse lobby. "It's a lot different from a trial with a jury."

Of the many experiences he'll have with the RCMP, he said he's looking forward most to working nights.

"A lot more happens," he said. "There are more calls and complaints."

Access program participants receive academic training and support as well, said Payne. They will attend workshops to learn things like critical thinking and "verbal judo" - talking their way out of tricky situations.

"They'll be out there on the front lines," said Payne. "But they are students so their exposure will be somewhat limited."

The program ends in March, and at that point the participants should be ready for the RCMP's regular recruitment exams, including the physical ability requirement evaluation.

That test is six exhausting laps of obstacles - leaping over vaults, clearing hurdles, carrying 100 pounds and all sorts of other challenges.

Tetlichi figures he has a good chance, as he's done it before in a previous police training course.

"It's been a while though," he laughed. "It might be tough."