Iqaluit City Council wants police action on bootleggers, drug dealers
“We’re in a very dangerous situation right now"
Iqaluit city councillors say they want police to clamp down on bootlegging and drug trafficking in the city.
Their comments came after RCMP Staff Sgt. Monty Lecomte provided a report during their March 12 city council meeting, in which he said most police calls are related to drugs or alcohol.
Coun. Mary Wilman said complaints against bootlegging are not always taken seriously by the RCMP.
And she asked if the Iqaluit detachment could put more efforts towards fighting bootlegging, “particularly when it involves young people.”
“We’ll certainly make sure it gets taken seriously,” Lecomte said in response to Wilman’s question.
Decreasing bootlegging would help solve a lot of the problems in Iqaluit, he said.
“We know that alcohol can destroy the body and the mind,” said Coun. Simon Nattaq who suggested that RCMP members use four-wheelers to do patrols in the summer.
That’s how he often travels.
“I smell lots of things that Mary doesn’t smell, and I’m not a drug dog,” he said, making the rest of council laugh.
A lot of the time drug dealers are unassuming so it’s hard to tell who is a drug dealer and who isn’t, Nattaq said.
But when he goes hunting “that whole trail will smell like marijuana.”
“We’re in a very dangerous situation right now,” Nattaq added.
Mayor John Graham said he had two elderly women complain to him that their pension money was stolen to buy drugs, “I back Simon up 100 per cent,” Graham said.
Lecomte also agreed.
“What you’re saying is dead on. We have a couple of four-wheelers and there’s no reason not to use them [on patrols],” he said.
But targeting young kids for anti-drug education is key, not the 17- to 10 year-olds who “have their mind made up.”
“We have to educate the younger people of the wrongs,” Lecomte said.
Coun. Joanasie Akumalik asked Lecomte if the RCMP would consider doing foot patrols as the weather gets warmer.
Akumalik also wanted to know what the Iqaluit RCMP are doing to avoid situations such as the death of Cst. Steve Dery, who was shot and killed March 2, while responding to a domestic abuse dispute.
“We certainly take every precaution… there are very volatile situations that can turn south quick,” Lecomte said.
RCMP members never go alone when responding to incidents and try to avoid those situations.
Coun. Romeyn Steveson also suggested RCMP members moving to Iqaluit should undergo some form of cultural or sensitivity training.
“Maybe that should be on your radar,” he said.
Lecomte said there is a member who is from Iqaluit that does provide some orientation to new hires.
In his report to the council, Lecomte noted that there wasn’t much change in crime numbers from November through February 2011 when compared to the same period in 2012.
Most calls were routine, with most incidents being related to drugs and alcohol, he said.
However, 2012 was a “year of change” for the RCMP Iqaluit detachment, he said, with eight of 18 members leaving, and three new members coming in must commit to stay for three years as opposed to two.