Yellowknife’s top police officer says he is thinking extra hard about the first responders who do life-saving work over the holidays, and the families who support them.
“I want to thank our police officers and our first responders, firefighters or paramedics or doctors and nurses at the emergency and clinics throughout the Northwest Territories that will be working long hours to make sure we’re safe. And some thoughts with their families as well as they’re being supported,” said Inspector Alex Laporte, Yellowknife RCMP’s detachment commander.
During the holidays, Laporte said police deal with a wide range of investigations and needs, similar to other times of the year. However, with many people traveling and celebrating, he recommends NWT residents take extra precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.
Impairment from alcohol, cannabis and other substances is still an issue on NWT roads. This despite police attention to road safety and impairment, including the ongoing Operation Gingerbread where officers set up traffic stops and checkpoints throughout the month of December.
Laporte said statistics from this year’s operation will be shared once it wraps up. During the same operation last year police laid 14 impaired driving charges, one-third of which were in the Yellowknife area.
During Operation Gingerbread, police also issue warnings and tickets for not wearing a seatbelt, not having insurance or registration documents and having issues with a vehicle such as a headlight that doesn’t function.
Laporte also reminded people to take precautions when traveling on the vast NWT road system. He urged those traveling to have a plan and communicating that plan to family members, as well as get in touch frequently when cell reception allows. “We all know that there are still some dead spots in and around the Northwest Territories where you can be on a long stretch of highway in pretty harsh winter conditions,” he said.
It’s important to have a vehicle in good working condition, good tires, as well as be prepared to spend a few hours alone before help arrives. Pack water, a heat source like candles, blankets and a communications device Laporte added.
People should also be aware of how they are leaving their home, to avoid anyone committing crimes of opportunity while they are away. Planning ahead is key, Laporte said.
“Having a house sitter available or a neighbor watching over the house,” he said. “Some strategies would include having lights in the house turning on and off at different moments in time. Obviously, locking the doors, putting away any personal effects of value, personal identifications.”
The same goes for locking vehicles and putting valuables out of sight. In the past, Laporte said the Yellowknife RCMP dealt with a string of break-and-enters in vehicles, with those breaking in looking for change and other items of value.
Wishing NWT residents a happy holiday, Laporte added the following: “The North is a very tight place,” he said. “We all have friends and families and it’s about caring and supporting each other and making good decisions and keeping each other safe.”