A senior RCMP officer expressed surprise at the level of impaired driving in Yellowknife as police reported a string of arrests over the Easter weekend.
Insp Chris Hastie, the Yellowknife detachment commander, told city councillors on Tuesday: “It’s shocking, the volume of impaired driving offences here in the city.”
On Wednesday, police said five suspected impaired drivers had been arrested over the preceding Saturday and Sunday.
Two were stopped within minutes of each other in downtown Yellowknife shortly after 2am on Saturday. Men aged 31 and 23 were arrested, RCMP said.
A 37-year-old man was similarly arrested near the entrance to the Dettah Ice Road later on Saturday morning, police said. That afternoon, RCMP said, a 66-year-old man drove his vehicle into a snow bank off Highway 3 and refused to provide a breath sample.
Lastly, at 1:30am on Sunday, police reported stopping a 26-year-old man on Borden Drive in connection with impaired driving offences.
Insp Hastie raised the subject as city councillors discussed which issues they want Yellowknife police officers to prioritize over the year ahead.
“Are there prolific offenders who drive while impaired? Yes, there are. I’ve seen it since I arrived in Yellowknife,” Hastie said.
“There are people that reoffend with impaired driving. We have some police officers who are very keen and know certain people that they arrested for impaired driving recently, or are now suspended from driving, and they still drive impaired.”
In a statement, police said impaired driving “continues to be an issue” in the city and issued a warning that it carries “severe consequences,” both in terms of the likelihood of serious injury or death and the possibility of penalties such as jail in more serious cases.
Old Airport Road break-ins
Hastie also addressed the subject of break-and-enters after a series of incidents on Yellowknife’s Old Airport Road.
Three separate break-ins were reported in that area last week. Police said a man – whose identity was not disclosed – faces multiple charges.
“It’s fair to say that the person involved in those break-and-enters is known to the detachment as a prolific offender,” Hastie told councillors.
“Those are the people that unfortunately, we have to keep a close eye on to make sure they comply with their conditions.
“If no one’s watching them or they feel like it’s safe to go out and breach their conditions, quite often they’ll kind-of create more crime.”
Each year, council sets priorities for the city’s municipal enforcement officers and recommends priorities to the Yellowknife RCMP detachment.
The latest priorities are set to be formally approved at Monday, April 25’s council meeting.
City staff have suggested the following priorities for municipal enforcement:
- incorporating reconciliation with Indigenous peoples into public safety and enforcement activities;
- “strategic proactive enforcement and prevention activities” related to traffic offences like speeding;
- a focus on unauthorized parking “to ensure unobstructed access for emergency vehicles,” a reference to a recent parking study; and
- “continued emphasis on municipal enforcement visibility and public engagement.”
City Hall’s recommended priorities for RCMP include:
- “continued visibility and response to calls for service” in the city’s downtown;
- working with Indigenous communities on reconciliation; and
- crime reduction and prevention “utilizing enforcement strategies focused on prolific and habitual offenders.”