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Head of Nunavut RCMP calls for more officers, staff

Nunavut RCMP Chief Supt. Michael Jeffrey says officers are often overworked, making it difficult to build connections with the communities they serve.

Commanding officer says police in communities overworked, with no leisure time

The RCMP detachment in Igloolik, Nunavut. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The commanding officer of Nunavut's RCMP says the police force is understaffed in the territory.

Chief Supt. Michael Jeffrey says Nunavut needs more officers and administrative workers to ease the workloads of other members. He says officers in the territory's smaller communities are often overworked.

The police force has 25 detachments scattered throughout Nunavut. Many are in small communities, and staffed by just two officers. Those officers are always on call, even when they're officially off-duty.

Jeffrey says that leaves little time for officers to rest or relax.

Michael Jeffrey has been Chief Superintendent of 'V' Division since November 2014. (CBC)

"They have to go out, answer a call, come back with the individual, do the paperwork, and they're sort of stuck in the office," Jeffrey says.

He says ideally, officers would have more leisure time, and time "to be out in the public doing proactive things, prevention, education," Jeffrey says. "You know, going to the school, talking to the young folks."

Jeffrey admits the police force has trouble finding new recruits, especially Inuit. The RCMP says hiring more Nunavummiut officers is an ongoing priority.

Const. David Aglukark, an Inuk, says it's essential for Nunavummiut to feel understood by the force.

"They need that comfort level where they can speak their own language, where they can get their point across to the RCMP members," Aglukark says.

The RCMP's website describes two programs aimed at increasing the number of First Nations, Metis and Inuit officers on the police force — an Aboriginal Cadet Development program, and an Aboriginal Pre-cadet Training program, aimed at young adults. Neither program is currently accepting applicants, the website says. 

Jeffrey says Nunavut is working with the Canadian Police College in Ottawa to develop a new recruitment program, but they're still looking for other partners to help get it off the ground.

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