North

Yellowknife RCMP commander on his almost 12 years in the North

After nearly 12 years with Yellowknife RCMP, Insp. Alex Laporte is leaving the North. His most recent posting in Yellowknife was a detachment commander.

RCMP Insp. Alex Laporte is leaving Yellowknife for Ottawa.

RCMP Insp. Alex Laporte has been reassigned to the Ottawa area. He spent almost 12 years policing in Yellowknife. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

After nearly 12 years with Yellowknife RCMP, Insp. Alex Laporte is leaving the North. His most recent posting in Yellowknife was as the detachment commander.

During that time RCMP in Yellowknife have led major drug busts disrupting drug distribution networks, investigated high-profile murder cases, and engaged with the community at all levels.

They've also shouldered a share of the criticism around policing that emerged in the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, responded to allegations of police misconduct, and more recently have come under renewed scrutiny during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in Yellowknife.

Most recently, the call to defund the police has risen to prominence. The idea of defunding the police includes a range of proposals — from the abolition of police forces to the transfer of funds from traditional policing to social programing.

Laporte says the idea of defunding the police has merit, at least in its less abolitionist construal.

RCMP Insp. Alex Laporte discusses policing with Benjamin Manuel in Yellowknife on June 12. Manuel alleged RCMP in Yellowknife had assaulted him. (Walter Strong/CBC)

"Personally, I'm super interested in the narrative around defunding the police," Laporte said in an interview with CBC Northbeat host Hilary Bird.

"I think it's a narrative that I've had for a number of years, that my predecessor had in terms of injecting the money where the services are needed.

"Enforcement has been proven to not be the key to success in relation to social health issues. In my opinion you can't solve social health issues through arrests and charges."

Instead, Laporte said projects like the street outreach program have been more effective. Street programs that began over the past several years, and the social change they brought with them, stand out for him.

"We started seeing some injections of funds into social initiatives for the city of Yellowknife," he said.

"The sobering day centre was born. Street outreach was born … different housing programs were implemented by some great folks. The past four years have been quite interesting and rewarding."

But Laporte said there's still a long way to go to fill remaining gaps in social services.

His new posting is near Ottawa.

"I'm going to miss it [Yellowknife] ...  the fishing and the hunting. Everything that I enjoyed about this place, that my family enjoyed about this place."

With files from Hilary Bird

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