Police in Inuvik say the sheer volume of weekend calls, many related to domestic violence, is making it harder to respond to other priorities set by town council.
Sergeant Grant Thom, commander of Inuvik’s RCMP detachment, this week told councillors his officers were responding to dozens of calls each weekend.
Thom said Canada Emergency Response Benefit (Cerb) payments – federal pandemic relief money, for which many NWT residents have signed up – were making the situation worse.
“With all the Cerb money coming in … the liquor store shelves looked like the the NorthMart shelves during spring breakup. They were bare,” Thom said during Wednesday’s council meeting.
“That’s a problem. When I see that, that means our call volume goes up for domestic violence, for assaults. My main concern is the domestic violence against women. That’s where our call volume goes.
“On the weekends, we’re doing I think 15 calls per night shift and then 10-plus per day shift. We’re doing 25 to 30 calls per day just on the weekend. It means the two or three members we have working are tied up considerably.”
Thom was responding to concerns from councillors that more policing was needed in local parks. He said the number of weekend calls frequently meant “your park is going to get left untouched for enforcement work.”
Concerns have been expressed about drinking and fighting at the town’s River Park and Happy Valley Territorial Park.
‘Nothing I’m scared to address’
Meanwhile, Councillor Clarence Wood took time on Wednesday to praise Inuvik RCMP for “setting a good example,” in his view, during a time in which police actions are being increasingly scrutinized.
Wood singled out an incident in which an Inuvik child, named Nevaeh, won a bike in a colouring contest held by RCMP, but chose to donate the bike to her brother as he needed it more. Detachment commander Thom said he had been so moved by that act of kindness that he bought another bike for Nevaeh.
“I’d like to commend the RCMP and particularly yourself for the donation of a bicycle to the young lady,” said Wood.
“You people here have always been great and I just want to recognize that.”
Responding to Wood and addressing the subject of police scrutiny, Thom said: “If you lead by example as leadership, it’s pretty easy for the rest of your people to fall in line.
“I have an open-door policy with my crew here. There’s nothing I’m scared to address when it comes to complaints from the public, leadership, or anybody else who comes through the door.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s somebody on the homeless side, from council, or a businessperson. There’s no reason by somebody can’t come here to talk to me directly.”