Yellowknifers of all ages lined up to grab some grub off the grill and meet with community law enforcement members at the second annual Yellowknife RCMP Detachment open house and barbecue Tuesday, part of the force’s yearly celebration of National Police Week.
Gleeful groups of school children, accompanied by community members eager to snag a burger or hot dog, filled the rear parking lot of the detachment’s 5010 Veterans’ Memorial Drive building.
Information was available at booths staffed by municipal, territorial and federal law enforcement agencies, including the city’s Municipal Enforcement Division (MED), Canadian Border Services Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
Guests were treated to demonstrations aimed at educating attendees and recruiting would-be law enforcers, including a crowd-rousing display of a trained police dog in action.
Along with the smell of grilled goodness, change was in the air as well.
The event welcomed Yellowknife RCMP newcomer Julie Plourde, the detachment’s recently hired media relations officer.
Plourde, who worked as a journalist for a decade before moving into the communications world, told Yellowknifer her past experience has equipped her with a unique skill set – one that allows her to appreciate the importance of reporting and journalism.
“I think I understand the amount of pressure reporters go through of a daily basis,” she said.
Her experience has equipped her to be more “proactive” when it comes to media relations, she said.
She’s also bilingual.
“I think it’s very important that we can provide our services in both French and English,” to best serve Yellowknife’s diverse community, added Plourde.
Yellowknife RCMP is one of the few detachments in Canada that does not yet have a social media presence – Twitter or Facebook – but plans are underway to change that, said Plourde.
Media spokesperson Marie York-Condon, also present at the meet and eat Tuesday, told Yellowknifer the success of the RCMP’s social media presence hinges on “support,” that has to be there.
“That’s our biggest challenge,” said York-Condon, adding there are hurdles to overcome in terms of operating a Twitter or Facebook page.
York-Condon, who has been media relations officer for the last three years, will continue working as a communications officer for the RCMP.
“We’re really looking forward to the opportunities Julie brings – having a bilingual officer, we’re so thrilled we managed to get someone with the credentials; the degree; the experience. We’re excited,” said York-Condon.
“We’re going to be supporting each other’s roles,” added Plourde.
Before a spirited dance broke out at the RCMP grounds, fuelled by energetic kids and led by École Allain St-Cyr teacher and RCMP Fitness Squad participant Christine Levesque, deputy mayor Shauna Morgan offered a few words at the event.
“We all play an important role in keeping Yellowknife a safe, friendly and welcoming community,” said Morgan, adding the city is grateful for “how well the RCMP is coordinating with the municipal government.”
“We’re also thankful the RCMP shares the city’s commitment to seeking a better understanding of the bigger picture to the causes of some of the problems we see in our community,” she added.
Morgan’s speech was followed by a brief talk from Insp. Alex Laporte, the officer in charge of the Yellowknife detachment, who applauded the hard work of his staff.
As for the dozens of young students Yellowknifer caught up with at the community BBQ, the answer to the best part of the day was easy: the food.
National Police Week, launched in 1970, recognizes the services provided by police and law enforcement, while helping members connect with the communities they serve and protect.