City council is no longer publicly reviewing monthly RCMP reports due to a heavy workload and a focus on other priorities.
Since then, mayor and council say they have been getting the monthly reports, they just haven’t been presented to the public in a live format by the RCMP detachment commander.
This largely is due to committee meetings over the last six months that have stretched into three-hour “marathon” sessions as well as the lack of authority that council has relating to anything the RCMP does.
“Right now the number of topics that we have on our agenda for council meetings, we are just focusing on items that require council decisions,” Mayor Rebecca Alty said this week. “So issues involving the pool and the zoning bylaw and an Avens development coming forward soon – we are focusing on issues that require council decisions right now.”
Over the last year and since December 2019, council has undergone a governance review – presented last August – where Alberta-based consultant George Cuff recommended that council’s agenda should be more focused on municipal issues and council’s mandate, Alty said.
Because the RCMP is funded 70 per cent by the federal government and 30 per cent by the territorial government, policing reports should the responsibility of those parties to present to the public, said the mayor.
“So the RCMP or the territorial government should be posting statistics and not a third-party like the city publishing the reports,” Alty said.
The reports typically have important information that residents may want to know about their community such as the number of calls the RCMP receives for a range of crimes, including sexual assaults, thefts, impaired driving and missing persons – and how those numbers compare to previous months and years.
The RCMP says it continues to provide statistics to the city every month and that although the police force creates the documents, it’s up to the municipality to decide how to share them. The police also point out that they haven’t been invited by the city to present the reports “for several months,” stated Marie York-Condon, media spokesperson for the Yellowknife RCMP.
‘Great interest from the public’
The in-person meetings allowed councillors to ask questions of detachment commanders and provide input on how the city’s policing objectives can align with the Mounties’ overall workload.
Former Insp. Alex Laporte said in an exit interview that being accessible as a detachment commander is an important part of the job.
“There’s great interest from the public and the media on the work that the RCMP is doing in Yellowknife and for good reason,” he said. “I know for me, I wanted to be accessible as a detachment commander and available in both good times and bad times.”
Since Laporte’s departure, new detachment commander Insp. Dyson Smith was announced as Laporte’s replacement in September.