RCMP programs keeping young people in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., out of trouble
Officers involved in hockey league, fitness programs to keep youth crime down
In Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., RCMP are trying to reduce crime by keeping young people busy — and they say it's working.
In the community of about 850 people, the RCMP has set up a variety of youth programs as part of its community policing strategy, including a fitness program called Tuk Power.
"I try to do sports and circuit training and cardio workouts," says Darcie Bernhardt, who leads the program.
Bernhardt is from Tuktoyaktuk and is an auxiliary (or volunteer) constable training to be a full time RCMP member. She says the students aren't the only ones gaining from Tuk Power.
"Being in charge of this program has given me so much more self esteem — you know, being in charge of something," she says.
The program encourages healthy relationships between community members as well as with officers, according to the RCMP's website.
It began in 2013 with five people working out of the Tuktoyaktuk RCMP detachment's garage, the site says, and now it's grown to more than 40 participants with several sessions a week in the school's gym.
Officers in community every night
RCMP in Tuktoyaktuk are crediting the community's low rate of youth crime to programs like Tuk Power.
For every 100 calls the detachment receives, only about three are complaints regarding young people.
"I have worked in other detachments and youth-involved crime has always been at the forefront of where I am," says Sgt. Philippe Cyr, Tuktoyaktuk's detachment commander.
Cyr has worked in Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Ontario, and says he's never seen youth crime rates so low.
"Specifically with the youth, I can see a downward trend towards crime," Cyr says.
"The youth are not implicating themselves in criminal activity. They are proactively engaging in activities."
He says his officers are in the community every evening working with young people — helping coach teams in Tuktoyaktuk's new hockey league, at the youth centre playing pool, or taking part in Tuk Power.
Tuktoyaktuk resident Tyrone Raddi says it's making a difference.
"The RCMP being involved and joining our leagues, coming out and it's just showing that they're more involved in the community," Raddi says.
"I think that's building a healthier relationship between the people and the RCMP."