Justice Minister R.J. Simpson says the RCMP detachment in Hay River has been fully staffed for a couple of years.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Oct. 19, Simpson – the MLA for Hay River North – said he knows there have been staffing issues at the detachment, and it has been tough to get it staffed up.
“I know those have been taken care of, and I believe they are at full capacity and that they have been for the last couple of years, which is good news,” he said.
Simpson was responding to questions from Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson, the minister’s father, about the number of RCMP officers in Hay River and the NWT, and whether there are enough of them to combat the illicit drug trade.
In particular, Rocky Simpson said there may not be enough RCMP officers in Hay River, considering its population and proximity to the NWT/Alberta border.
“Can the minister of Justice confirm the number of funded RCMP positions and support staff in Hay River and around the NWT?” he asked.
R.J. Simpson responded that, in the NWT, there are 225 RCMP positions and 42 public servants as part of the territorial police service agreement and First Nations policing agreement, along with 13 federal policing positions.
“Specifically in Hay River, there are 16 regular members, including 12 constables, who we would see out on patrol, and three public servants,” the minister said.
Rocky Simpson asked the minister if the measures taken by the GNWT to combat the drug trade are working.
R.J. Simpson, noting that the battle also includes preventative measures and programs, said there have been a significant number of drug seizures in recent years.
“Every time I look on the news, there is a photograph with a pile of drugs, a pile of money, and then guns, and we see those on a regular basis,” he said. “In addition to those large seizures, the RCMP are also focusing on enhancing the frontline officers’ ability to target drug trafficking at a community level through collaboration, training and development.”
R.J. Simpson said the public does not hear about a lot of the things that the RCMP are doing.
“I know that, speaking with the RCMP in Hay River, they have partnered or they work closely with the RCMP in Alberta, and they stop drugs before they get into the territory,” he said.
The RCMP are not self-promoters in a lot of ways, the minister noted. “And maybe that is so the people do not figure out their tactics. However, I am always happy when I speak with them and I find out that they are doing things that I never knew were happening.”