During the monthly reporting of stats on RCMP, Inspector Alex Laporte told Yellowknife city council that in the downtown core 51 patrols were carried out with 14 specifically pertaining to the sobering centre area in August.
But a few city councillors questioned if these patrols are enough.
“As you are aware I’m running for MLA in Yellowknife Centre and it’s interesting going door to door and hearing the perceptions people have downtown,” said Coun. Niels Konge.
“A lot of people don’t believe the numbers that you bring up. Sure it says that you did 51 patrols downtown but people say they never see you there. I drive around and see RCMP around but what do you say to people who say you aren’t doing patrols downtown?”
Insp. Laporte disagreed with that perception.
“I know and see everyday the efforts the RCMP members are putting to the challenges we face as a community,” said Laporte. “Members are committed they understand it. They care about that population. We care about that population. When that situation happened downtown a few weeks ago, we were all devastated.
“We were present on bicycles in the summer, we are present in our cars, we are present on foot, we will continue to be present and put efforts towards downtown.”
Coun. Stacie Smith did not focus on the perception of patrols, but questioned if the amount of reported patrols were enough.
“We’re not even getting two patrols a day downtown and only 16 near the sobering centre,” said Smith
“I’ve had many people from the downtown area specifically wanting to know how come there’s not even two patrols a day. What is it going to take is the question I’m being asked, what is it going to take to get more action?”
Smith went on to say that even though 82 bottles of liquor were seized in August, she is sure 82 bottles of liquor could be seized downtown in “one day alone.”
Laporte responded by saying that over 40 per cent of calls to the RCMP are in the downtown core, there are months where there are close to 80 patrols downtown and over 450 visibility foot patrols have been carried out downtown this year.
“There are a lot of pressures,” said Laporte.
He went on to say there are a lot of challenges in the area which are deeply rooted in the community and they have seen past efforts of addressing this with law enforcement fail.
“We do have a presence in the downtown. We cannot be there 24-7.”
Laporte reflected on the past three years in Yellowknife highlighting successes of social programs such as housing programs and Integrated Case Management while noting the RCMP has a part to play in the solution.
“We are playing it and we will continue to do so,” said Laporte.
Both Smith and Konge thanked the RCMP for their efforts and reassured that they do good work.
Mayor Alty noted that law enforcement efforts are based on budgets and resources and the RCMP are working with what they have.
“If councillors and the public feel there needs to be more enforcement and bodies on the street, this is the time with election season and with every budget going forward to put that request in at the federal level,” said Alty.