Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik February 23, 2017 - 8:30 am

Nunavik police force continues to struggle with turnover

“It takes them a while before they get comfortable, and then it seems they're leaving"

SARAH ROGERS
The Kativik Regional Police Force station in Ivujivik. In 2016, the force saw half its officers leave their roles, many of them senior officers. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
The Kativik Regional Police Force station in Ivujivik. In 2016, the force saw half its officers leave their roles, many of them senior officers. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

KUUJJUAQ—The Kativik Regional Police Force has its work cut out for it on a good day, but recruiting and retaining police officers is a struggle all of its own.

And this applies to officers, as well as to senior officers, who have experience working in the region’s communities.

In 2016, the force saw half of its officers leave their roles—roughly 40 officers.

Most of them were officers with a few years experience in Nunavik, KRPF chief Michel Martin said a Kativik Regional Government council meeting Feb. 22.

“The turnover of KRPF officers is mainly due to a massive hiring from municipal or provincial police agencies south of the 55th parallel,” Martin said. “Our officers are often in demand for their experience and adaptability [gained from] serving northern communities.”

But other forces’ gains are the KRPF’s losses. Currently, nearly half of Nunavik officers have less than one year of police seniority, Martin said, up from 34 per cent in 2015.

Officers with between one and three years of experience make up about 18 per cent of the force, while police with more than three years experience account for about 37 per cent.

As of December 2016, the force counted a total of 81 officers, 10 who are female and three who are Inuit.

“It has an impact on us,” Martin said, noting the extensive training and integration required for officers that are new to police work, and to the region.

“It takes them a while before they get comfortable, and then it seems they’re leaving.”

The key to addressing that is recruiting Inuit staff, the KRPF has long maintained, although those efforts have been slow.

An Inuk officer can respond to a community’s needs more efficiently than an officer from outside the region, the force said, especially when it comes to language and cultural sensitivity.

A KRPF officer, now in training at the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, is doing research on that topic, by identifying the barriers to Inuit employment with the force and how to do a better job attracting and retaining Nunavimmiut officers. The KRPF expects to share the results of that work once it’s completed.

In the meantime, the KRPF requires a full and competent police force to respond to the average of 50 files generated every day across the region, the KRG heard.

More recent statistics show criminal incidents up six per cent this year from last, although impaired driving and sexual assaults are down.

The KRPF has also said goodbye to its longtime deputy chief, Pierre Bettez, who left the force last month.

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