Indigenous recruitment remains priority, say RCMP top brass

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NWT RCMP top brass say recruiting more Indigenous officers onto the force remains a top priority.

“This year, each detachment is working actively towards reconciliation,” said Chief Supt. Jamie Zettler, presenting to the Standing Committee on Social Development at the legislative assembly on Tuesday.

As part of the force’s commitment to working towards reconciliation, Zettler told MLAs the RCMP G Division – the branch responsible for serving the territory and its 33 communities – is continuing its efforts to bring more Indigenous officers into the RCMP’s ranks through a number of recruitment programs and initiatives.

In 2011, The Community Constable program was launched in the territory in a bid to “address the gaps in policing services.” The pilot, initiated in certain jurisdictions in Canada in 2011, was created in an effort to “enhance community engagement and community policing,” by placing Indigenous members in communities where they have a local knowledge of its culture, language and geography, according to the RCMP’s national website.

At the rank of Special Constable Member, Community Constables are armed and uniformed peace officers. In 2016, there were 20 Community Constables stationed across Canada.

Of the 260 regular and civilian members and public servants employed by the G Division, Zettler said there are four Indigenous Community Constables stationed in Behchoko, Fort Simpson, Inuvik and Fort Good Hope.

Zettler said he would “love to see” more Indigenous constables become regular members within the RCMP, noting that one special community constable recently became a regular Mountie member.

“As for recruitment, we have many programs out there right now, to bring more people from Indigenous communities and groups into the RCMP across the country as well as in the NWT,” said Zettler.”

Three Indigenous recruits from NWT went to Depot, the Mounties’ training academy located in Saskatchewan, this fiscal year alone, added Zettler.

Daniel McNeely, MLA for Sahtu, commended the continued practice of positioning Indigenous communities.

“Now that you’re actually having Indigenous on your workforce … I encourage you to continue to minimize crime through prevention, consultation and education,” he said.

“That builds trust,” added McNeely.

But increased Indigenous representation within the force won’t happen overnight. Currently, there are no Indigenous officers holding high ranking positions in G Division. Plus, Zettler said recruitment, in general, and the retaining of members is challenge for the Division currently.

“It’s a process,” Zettler told reporters following the public meeting.

“We want people to apply. We’re open for business. We’re taking steps to streamline (the process of recruiting and employee Indigenous applications),” said Zettler.

In 2017, NWT RCMP G Division received just over 36,000 calls for service, amounting to 18,000 criminal code violations.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.