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Fewer people staying in RCMP cells thanks to outreach services, say Yellowknife police

Yellowknife RCMP say there are fewer prisoners in their cells, and it's thanks to new initiatives aimed at helping the city's homeless.

RCMP says they saw 30 fewer prisoners in April compared to the same time last year

Insp. Alex Laporte, detachment commander for the Yellowknife RCMP, says more people used to be held in police cells because they were intoxicated. But now there are better services to help those people. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Yellowknife RCMP say fewer people are being held in police cells, and it's thanks to new initiatives aimed at helping the city's homeless.

Programs like the sobering centre and the street outreach program were introduced last year to help people with addictions get off the street.

"A large number of those prisoners that we used to house overnight in our cells [were there] in relation to intoxication," said Insp. Alex Laporte, detachment commander for the Yellowknife RCMP.

"We have alternatives now where they receive more services — better quality services than being in a police cell."

Monthly stats show decrease in prisoners

According to the RCMP's monthly statistics, police saw 176 prisoners in April — 30 fewer than the same month last year.

Laporte presented the statistics at the city's municipal services committee meeting on Tuesday.

He noted RCMP have also been patrolling downtown more often to try and engage with the people who spend time there, including Yellowknife's homeless.

RCMP carried out 60 patrols downtown in April, resulting in 118 bottles of alcohol being seized and destroyed, according to Laporte.

'We have a role to play'

"I believe our work downtown — the numbers are reflecting the need," he said. "We have a role to play. Other organizations and departments have a role to play in the social issues that we have seen, and we're working on it."

Laporte said Yellowknife's downtown is one of the city's "hotspots" for crime, along with the intersection at Old Airport Road and Borden Drive, near the Stanton Plaza shopping area.

He said RCMP are working at being more visible in these areas during what he calls peak times — between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. — when police receive more calls for service.

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