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Fewer calls but more violence
RCMP releases statistics on detachment activity in Nunavut for 2010

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, February 19, 2011


Newly-released RCMP statistics on detachment activity in Nunavut for 2010 show police responded to 1,431 fewer calls than in 2009, processed 694 fewer prisoners but laid 778 more charges.

NNSL photo/graphic

RCMP Supt. Howard Eaton, left, and Sgt. Jimmy Akavak, speak to reporters in Iqaluit after releasing statistics on detachment activity in Nunavut. The data shows police responded to fewer calls for service but many of those involved violence. - Jeanne Gagnon/NNSL photo

Supt. Howard Eaton said even though the volume of calls for service has decreased in 11 communities, a lot of them involve violence. Getting the territory's violent crime rate down is the next step, he added.

"In many cases, the stats have come down but the rate of violence in Nunavut has not decreased. We are still approximately 10 times higher than the national average," he said. "It's a very violent place to police and the communities are plagued with violent incidents as opposed to some of the smaller communities in other places in Canada (that) don't see that level of violence."

Eaton also released statistics on seized goods and money.

In 2010, the RCMP seized $62,700 worth (street value) of liquor and about $1.5 million worth of drugs, the bulk being marijuana, followed by cocaine, small amounts of ecstasy, some mushrooms and a little bit of marijuana derivatives, said Eaton. He added they also seized $256,206 in cash.

Although the RCMP is unsure exactly where the money goes, Eaton said they know it's going down south.

"Those three seizures combined account for a significant amount of money," he said. "It tells you the black market is alive and well in Nunavut and there are people that will sell their souls to buy alcohol or drugs and there is a ready market for people to trade in it."

RCMP Sgt. Jimmy Akavak said alcohol has an impact on the statistics, giving the example of Arctic Bay when it received a backlog of alcohol orders in one shipment. Police could not keep up with the calls, he added.

Overall in 2010, the Arctic Bay detachment had 506 calls for service in 2010, an increase of 115 calls from 2009. Criminal code offences increased to 264 charges (94 more than 2009) but fewer prisoners were processed, with 58 people taken into custody, a decrease of 37 people from 2009.

"This is good, the drop in numbers of prisoners," said Arctic Bay mayor Niore Iqalukjuak. "It always worries us when we look at those numbers. We hope that they could drop."

The Baker Lake and Arviat detachments stand out with their increased workload, said Eaton. Arviat had 47 per cent more calls for service in 2010 compared to 2009, with the RCMP receiving 1,667 calls for service. In the same time frame, the Baker Lake detachment of four officers received 1,354 calls for service, an increase of 12 per cent over 2009.

Eaton said any time a mine opens up it has a significant impact on policing statistics, as more alcohol and drugs are brought into the community, which also sees a rise in domestic violence. He added mining companies should take a proactive approach, such as teaching their employees to save money and budget. Agnico-Eagle Meadowbank's gold mine is located 70 kilometres to the north of Baker Lake.

"It's like getting drafted into the NHL and you go from making $45 a day or a week to $45 million a year," said Eaton. "It's an adjustment period. It would be nice if the mining corporations had a little more of a perspective on that as well. We've also talked to the government about making it mandatory when a mine goes into a community, they pay for an additional policeman because the workload is there. "

And in Cape Dorset, a community that experienced a shootout, a standoff and two homicide investigations in less than a month last fall, 39 fewer people or 386 individuals, were held in custody in 2010 and 956 criminal code charges were laid, a decrease of 157 over 2009.

Olayuk Akesuk, the senior administrative officer in Cape Dorset, said the community is going on the right path.

"The events that happened in the past, I think a lot of people have realized a bit more of the seriousness of going into the prison and other things according to the law," he said.

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