Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit September 03, 2012 - 5:16 am

Calls up, but crime down in Iqaluit: RCMP

"It’s shooting fish in a barrel”

DAVID MURPHY

The crime rate in Iqaluit hasn’t been as bad this summer as in previous years, Sgt. Kevin Lewis of the Iqaluit RCMP detachment said in a recent interview.

That’s because sealift landings of booze, whether legal or illegal, have been spread out over longer periods of time, because of ice conditions that kept vessels from landing their cargo for weeks on end.

“It’s been different this year. Within a couple days of the sealift in town, we do see the typical rise in alcohol-related calls. But because the sealifts were scattered, they’re not coming at the same time, and we’re not seeing the same impact that we have seen in other years,” Lewis said.

This is not to say RCMP haven’t been busy: in May, June and July, 2,338 calls were made to police, compared to last year when 2,216 calls for service were made.

So far this year, until the end of July, police had received 229 more calls than in 2011.

But the number of offenders detained in cells this year is down three per cent.

“Since I’ve been here, it’s been steadily declining,” Lewis said, adding he’s seen the rate of prisoners drop by half since he arrived in 2009.

“With the resources we have, the type of caseload we get, we have to lay our resources strategically…” he said.

He also said the use of plain-clothed police officers to disrupt drug deals outside stores in Iqaluit has proven to be effective.

“And whenever we see that it’s heating up again, we redeploy some people in plain clothes to make arrests and conduct investigations. It’s quite successful,” he said.“It’s shooting fish in a barrel, to be honest.”

Before the plain-clothed police officers were deployed, Lewis said you would have to walk through an “uncomfortable gauntlet” of drug traffickers to go shopping. Now, whenever the usual crowd comes back, the police arrest several at a time.

“It works to our favour that these people don’t learn from their past mistakes in their drug trafficking,” he said.

Lewis also mentioned that it was a “quiet night” when the four-hour blackout occurred Aug. 30.

“I was very surprised. It was the first thing I asked when I came into the office, but nothing happened.”

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