Fort Liard is set to be the first community in the Northwest Territories to have a community policing program.
In a Wednesday news release, the territory’s justice department said the hamlet will be responsible for implementing the three-year community safety officer pilot program and tailoring it to the needs of the community.
The territorial government will provide a framework for the project and annual funding of $303,000.
The initiative is intended to explore alternative approaches to community safety and crime prevention. Community safety officers do not have the authority to enforce laws but will respond to non-criminal safety concerns, develop and implement crime prevention strategies, patrol the hamlet, and build the community’s relationship with the RCMP, the territory said.
“The community safety officers will be strong community advocates for Fort Liard as they know the hamlet, the people, and the culture best,” justice minister RJ Simpson said in a statement.
Cathay Kotchea, the mayor of Fort Liard, said the project will help achieve council’s vision of a “progressive, healthy and safe community.”
Hiring and training for the program will begin this summer. Near the end of the pilot, the project will be evaluated to determine its impact on the community.
The program was first announced in the latest territorial budget as a community justice and policing initiative.
A Department of Justice spokesperson told Cabin Radio in February the program will be designed to provide “a proactive, sustainable, trauma-informed, holistic approach to community safety, and bridge the gap between community safety needs and the role of the RCMP.”
A similar program run by the Kwanlin Dün First Nation launched in Whitehorse four years ago. That program has received national and international attention as a solution to the legacies of colonialism within modern policing.