Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik September 20, 2016 - 7:00 am

Nunavik police get more weapons calls; illegal alcohol seizures fall

“We’d like to encourage everyone to report the illegal sales of alcohol and drugs"

SARAH ROGERS
The KRPF is encouraging Nunavimmiut to report the illegal sale of alcohol and drugs, noting the force has received fewer tips from the public in 2016 than last year. (FILE PHOTO)
The KRPF is encouraging Nunavimmiut to report the illegal sale of alcohol and drugs, noting the force has received fewer tips from the public in 2016 than last year. (FILE PHOTO)

KUUJJUAQ—The number of calls to Nunavik police involving complaints about weapons have risen dramatically from last year, the Kativik Regional Police Force told regional council meetings last week.

“The number of calls involving weapons doubled compared to 2015,” KRPF’s new deputy chief of operations, Daniel Allard, told Kativik Regional Government meetings Sept. 15.

“Last year, the KRPF received 14 calls involving weapons. So far in 2016, the KRPF has received 27 calls.”

The KRPF didn’t indicate what types of weapons are involved in the calls, nor did police suggest why they might be seeing the increase.

But Nunavimmiut say that, following certain police intervention, rifles are being taken away and not always returned to their owner.

“People should get their property back,” said Kuujjuaq regional councillor Sammy Koneak.

In Kangiqsujuaq, councillor Charlie Arngak said that police have held onto rifles belonging to deceased residents, while he believes they should be returned to family members.

Rifles, they argue, are a means of both protection and food for Inuit hunters out on the land.

The KRPF’s police chief Michel Martin noted that it’s a court order that directs police to take away firearms for a given time, and not a police decision.

Once there’s no longer an order in place, he said owners should be able to retrieve their rifles.

But Martin acknowledged there could be administrative issues creating delays.

“We have a high turnover [of officers], so new members don’t always know what to do with leftover weapons,” Martin said. “Each weapon needs to be investigated, [in order to] track down its owner.”

In case of deceased firearm owners, the KRPF said family members can go to the police station with documentation like a death certificate, or the deceased person’s will, in order to retrieve the rifle.

Violent crime up

While calls involving weapons are up, KRPF says the amount of alcohol seized throughout the region has dropped so far in 2016 compared to last year.

Between January 2016 and July 2016, police seized more than $225,000 worth of alcohol, the majority of that hard liquor being smuggled into the region.

During the same period in 2015, police seized $391,870 worth of booze in Nunavik.

The KRPF is linking that to an increase in violent crime this year: the force has responded to 1,994 assaults so far this year. Of those, 291 involved assault of a police officer.

Police say they’re also receiving fewer tips from the public than last year.

“We’d like to encourage everyone in the community to report the illegal sales of alcohol and drugs,” said the KRPF’s deputy chief of operations, Daniel Allard.

“You can also call anonymously.”

Nunavimmiut can call 1-800-711-1800 toll-free to report alcohol and drug sales. Calls can be made anonymously, in Inuktitut, English or French, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit—made up of the RCMP, Sûreté du Québec provincial police and Aboriginal police forces across Quebec, including the KRPF—said it’s worked with Canada Post to inspect more than 450 parcels destined for the region this year alone, seizing more than 700 bottles of hard liquor.

 

 

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