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Hay River tackles drug trafficking, sees lower crime rates overall

Crime rates in Hay River are down as a whole, apart from drug trafficking, according to the latest figures.

RCMP Sgt. Kurtis Pillipow presented October’s crime numbers to a committee meeting of town councillors on Monday.

Assaults were down to eight in the month of October compared with 25 the previous year. Zero sexual offences were reported in October this year, compared with three in 2019. Theft as a whole was down — combining theft valued under $5000 and greater than $5000 — with four incidents in 2020 compared with nine last year.

Impaired driving is also down compared to October 2019, but violations of the liquor act were up compared to October last year. 

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Instances of drug trafficking are also up, having already exceeded last year’s numbers, with 30 instances reported as of October, compared to 24 in the whole of 2019.

Despite the increase in reports of drug trafficking, drug seizures conducted by RCMP are at zero, compared with 15 last year. Pillipow said looking at just the numbers doesn’t show all the work that is being done behind the scenes.

He added the pandemic may be having an impact on drug seizures, because the RCMP is doing less traffic stops because of COVID-19, where drug seizures can occur, said Pillipow.

“A lot of times what I find is that people in the general public, don’t think that we’re doing anything about drugs in the community or substance abuse specifically, because they don’t see us storming in and kicking in doors and doing those things that people expect the police to do,” said Pillipow. 

Hay River RCMP is also introducing a habitual offender management program, that will aim to address repeat offenders. Pillipow said the RCMP is identifying five candidates for “monitoring them and in doing so, assisting them to be compliant, and basically not break the law.”

“We know that it’s a very small number of people that cause the most harm in the community, generally speaking,” said Pilipow. “We might have 5% of the population causing 95% of the harm to the community.”

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