Yellowknife RCMP officers conducted 74 downtown patrols in September.
Of those patrols, 19 were focused at or around the Sobering Centre/Day Shelter, and 55 bottles of liquor were seized and destroyed downtown throughout September, Insp. Alex Laporte, officer in charge at the Yellowknife RCMP detachment, told councillors during the monthly update Monday.
That same month, a man, 32, was charged with murder in the beating death of 36-year-old Mark Poodlat. The incident occurred outside the Sobering Centre/Day Shelter on 50 Street.
RCMP began including the number of patrols dedicated to the Sobering Centre/Day Shelter and its surrounding area in February.
The number of downtown patrols fluctuates from month to month. RCMP have stated the frequency of patrols hinges on where resources are most needed at the time.
The highest number of patrols recorded by Mounties this year came in May. Seventy-nine were carried out that month. September was also well above the 58 patrols carried out on average each month so far in 2019.
Over the last four months in 2018, an average of 50 were conducted, statistics submitted by RCMP show.
Since January, police have “seized and destroyed” an average of 53 bottles of liquor a month during downtown patrols.
RCMP patrols in the downtown area have been scrutinized in recent months.
The effectiveness of the patrols often came up over the course of the territorial election, when homelessness and addiction issues in the downtown were a hot-button topic for MLA incumbents and hopefuls alike at debates.
Last month, some councillors questioned whether the patrols were enough to tackle those issues. Coun. Niels Konge, who ran for MLA in Yellowknife Centre, said some residents he spoke to on the campaign trail thought patrol numbers weren’t adding up — they weren’t seeing Mounties out and about on the streets downtown.
Insp. Laporte met questions and criticism surrounding police presence downtown with assurances that members were committed to patrolling the area, a policing priority backed up by statistics.
On Monday, Konge asked Laporte to explain the protocol behind seizing alcohol downtown. The city’s top cop said Mounties can confiscate open bottles of alcohol, and people intoxicated in public can have their alcohol seized and destroyed.
Asked by Konge whether or not the process of seizing alcohol was arduous, Laporte said it wasn’t, and that doing so required officers to fill out minimal paperwork.
In September, RCMP responded to 66 calls for service for violations under the Liquor Act — 10 more than the month before. Sixty-one calls related to liquor infractions were fielded by Yellowknife RCMP in September 2018. By the year’s end, a total of 857 were recorded.
Violations down from August
The total number of violations recorded by Yellowknife RCMP dropped from 839 in August to 798 last month, amounting to a five per cent dip. Police responded to 81 assaults — excluding sexual offences — in September, 15 fewer than the month before.
The same number of assaults were recorded by police in October of last year. Reported sexual assault offences doubled in September from August — 12 compared to six. RCMP have responded to 87 sex assault offences this year, 19 fewer than the total recorded in all of 2018.
RCMP fielded 955 calls for service last month.