Calm before the storm

Cpl. Greg Morrow conducts a traffic stop last Friday night. While the first night of the long weekend was a quiet one, the following night-shift was much busier – and more typical for season. -- Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

Cpl. Greg Morrow conducts a traffic stop last Friday night. While the first night of the long weekend was a quiet one, the following night-shift was much busier – and more typical for season.
– Sarah Ladik/NNSL photo

Normally, the August long-weekend is a busy one for the RCMP in Hay River – one of the busiest of the year, in fact.

But last Friday night was a quiet one. Nonetheless, Cpl. Greg Morrow, the interim detachment commander, made sure to put extra bodies on the shift – not an easy task in the summer when people are on vacation in an already understaffed detachment.

“There’s a lot of extra people in town this weekend,” he said, citing the handgames tournament on the reserve as well as the slo-pitch tournament that’s hosting 15 teams. “Beer gardens, dances – that’s all a bit of a recipe for what we do and it puts some extra strain on the detachment.”

In a night marked by the absence of calls, the first came relatively early. Just before 8:30 p.m. Morrow responded to a complaint of a man passed out drunk on the path between the Rowe’s Trailer Court and the Rooster. The man was found sleeping in the bushes on the side of the path and was taken to the detachment to sleep it off.

“You’re being arrested for being drunk in public,” Morrow told the man as he put him in the car. “You’re not really in trouble, we’re just going to give you a place to sleep. You can’t sleep outside.”

Upon arrival at the cells at the back of the detachment, Morrow saw that the man’s name was also the last entry in the log from the previous night.

“I guess I’m here all the time,” the man said quietly.

 

A serious problem

While drunk-driving is always an issue, Morrow said the last few months have been particularly bad.

“This summer has been crazy for impaired and we don’t know why. We’ve had 26 file charges as of June 1, which is an exorbitant number,” he said. “We’re well on our way to leading the division.”

Under best-practices, it takes two officers to deal with an impaired driving case – one to make the original arrest and observe, and another to administer the breath-test. While members can make-do by themselves if they have to, it’s not ideal, and having two people tied up working a case means fewer police on the roads, according to Morrow.

“They say when you’re doing pro-active policing you catch about five per cent of the crime,” said Morrow. “So if we have 26 charges, you can imagine the number really out there.”

 

Ongoing investigations

At about 9 p.m., Morrow received a report of a vehicle involved in an ongoing drug investigation in the area. He said the detachment has several open investigations into the drug scene in Hay River, but that it can be tricky to balance resources.

“Part of the frustration for me of being so short-handed is that you see those projects that have potential, and you can’t necessarily do as much about them as you would like,” he said. “We do a lot of the (investigation) work, but it’s tough to do all that we would like to when we have to keep the balance between resources dedicated to responding to calls too.”

 

Roll camera

At 9:45 p.m. Morrow responds to a complaint from a resident in Old Town of teenagers jumping on the green barrel – a giant round tank on NTCL property, and generally “acting crazy.” As he pulls up to the tank, a vehicle packed full of young people drives by going the other way.

He follows them and pulls them over, noticing the flash of a camera phone before getting out of the car. “Someone taking a photo of getting pulled over,” he explains. “It happens a lot.”

The driver of the car admitted that it was him and his friends who had been climbing on the barrel and, after checking his license and registration, Morrow lets them off with a warning. He said that while these kids didn’t film him beyond the original photo, doing so is a growing trend.

“People I guess think it’s a way of keeping police in check,” he said. “But 99 per cent of the time, the member doesn’t change how they act. They’re just doing their job.”

Morrow continues to make stops, periodically checking on drivers in vehicles behaving a bit suspiciously. In one case, he pulled over a vehicle coming out of the industrial area just before midnight. The passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, but the stop had more to do with seeing who had been driving around in the industrial area after hours, Morrow said.

“We’ve had some break and enters down the side roads down that way,” he said. “Maybe if we hear of one later, we might know who was down there.”

 

Carbines and courses

Morrow was out of the office two weeks ago, taking part in a week-long intensive course to operate a carbine, a type of gun that would allow RCMP officers to better respond to dangerous situations in which someone is shooting at them with a similarly high-powered weapon. Plans to phase the guns into all detachments across Canada began after the tragedy at Mayerthorpe, Alberta in 2005 when four officers were gunned down, but were stepped up following the shooting in Moncton, New Brunswick earlier this year that killed three officers.

For G Division, which means all RCMP in the NWT, the courses will all be held in Hay River, totalling five weeks this summer. Officers must then be recertified on the weapon every year, meaning the division will be running two sets of courses in Hay River every summer for carbines alone.

“It brings people to town,” said Morrow. “Those guys all stay in the hotel, and it means 20 lunches every day for a local restaurant.”

Under retired staff sergeant Jack Kruger, Hay River became somewhat of a hub for RCMP training for not only members in the territory, but also for police forces from across Canada and North America. Morrow said he hopes the trend continues to grow.

 

All quiet on the Northern front

A few more traffic stops and one case of public underage drinking later, Morrow returns to the detachment for a short reprieve and to stretch his legs.

“These are the type of nights we like to see,” he said. “It means people are making good decisions.”

The following night, however, proved more typical of the normally-busy August long-weekend. On Saturday, the night-shift received no fewer than 24 calls, caught four drunk-drivers, handed out one 24-hour suspension for “driving with drugs,” as well as six traffic offence charges. Police broke up brawls outside the dance at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre and enforced the liquor ban at the Dene Assembly handgames tournament on the reserve – seizing contraband alcohol in the process – and also investigated an accident. In all, the detachment played host to a total of ten prisoners for the night.

– Sarah Ladik

Normally, the August long-weekend is a busy one for the RCMP in Hay River – one of the busiest of the year, in fact.

But last Friday night was a quiet one. Nonetheless, Cpl. Greg Morrow, the interim detachment commander, made sure to put extra bodies on the shift – not an easy task in the summer when people are on vacation in an already understaffed detachment.

“There’s a lot of extra people in town this weekend,” he said, citing the handgames tournament on the reserve as well as the slo-pitch tournament that’s hosting 15 teams. “Beer gardens, dances – that’s all a bit of a recipe for what we do and it puts some extra strain on the detachment.”

In a night marked by the absence of calls, the first came relatively early. Just before 8:30 p.m. Morrow responded to a complaint of a man passed out drunk on the path between the Rowe’s Trailer Court and the Rooster. The man was found sleeping in the bushes on the side of the path and was taken to the detachment to sleep it off.

“You’re being arrested for being drunk in public,” Morrow told the man as he put him in the car. “You’re not really in trouble, we’re just going to give you a place to sleep. You can’t sleep outside.”

Upon arrival at the cells at the back of the detachment, Morrow saw that the man’s name was also the last entry in the log from the previous night.

“I guess I’m here all the time,” the man said quietly.

A serious problem

While drunk-driving is always an issue, Morrow said the last few months have been particularly bad.

“This summer has been crazy for impaired and we don’t know why. We’ve had 26 file charges as of June 1, which is an exorbitant number,” he said. “We’re well on our way to leading the division.”

Under best-practices, it takes two officers to deal with an impaired driving case – one to make the original arrest and observe, and another to administer the breath-test. While members can make-do by themselves if they have to, it’s not ideal, and having two people tied up working a case means fewer police on the roads, according to Morrow.

“They say when you’re doing pro-active policing you catch about five per cent of the crime,” said Morrow. “So if we have 26 charges, you can imagine the number really out there.”

Ongoing investigations

At about 9 p.m., Morrow received a report of a vehicle involved in an ongoing drug investigation in the area. He said the detachment has several open investigations into the drug scene in Hay River, but that it can be tricky to balance resources.

“Part of the frustration for me of being so short-handed is that you see those projects that have potential, and you can’t necessarily do as much about them as you would like,” he said. “We do a lot of the (investigation) work, but it’s tough to do all that we would like to when we have to keep the balance between resources dedicated to responding to calls too.”

Roll camera

At 9:45 p.m. Morrow responds to a complaint from a resident in Old Town of teenagers jumping on the green barrel – a giant round tank on NTCL property, and generally “acting crazy.” As he pulls up to the tank, a vehicle packed full of young people drives by going the other way.

He follows them and pulls them over, noticing the flash of a camera phone before getting out of the car. “Someone taking a photo of getting pulled over,” he explains. “It happens a lot.”

The driver of the car admitted that it was him and his friends who had been climbing on the barrel and, after checking his license and registration, Morrow lets them off with a warning. He said that while these kids didn’t film him beyond the original photo, doing so is a growing trend.

“People I guess think it’s a way of keeping police in check,” he said. “But 99 per cent of the time, the member doesn’t change how they act. They’re just doing their job.”

Morrow continues to make stops, periodically checking on drivers in vehicles behaving a bit suspiciously. In one case, he pulled over a vehicle coming out of the industrial area just before midnight. The passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, but the stop had more to do with seeing who had been driving around in the industrial area after hours, Morrow said.

“We’ve had some break and enters down the side roads down that way,” he said. “Maybe if we hear of one later, we might know who was down there.”

Carbines and courses

Morrow was out of the office two weeks ago, taking part in a week-long intensive course to operate a carbine, a type of gun that would allow RCMP officers to better respond to dangerous situations in which someone is shooting at them with a similarly high-powered weapon. Plans to phase the guns into all detachments across Canada began after the tragedy at Mayerthorpe, Alberta in 2005 when four officers were gunned down, but were stepped up following the shooting in Moncton, New Brunswick earlier this year that killed three officers.

For G Division, which means all RCMP in the NWT, the courses will all be held in Hay River, totalling five weeks this summer. Officers must then be recertified on the weapon every year, meaning the division will be running two sets of courses in Hay River every summer for carbines alone.

“It brings people to town,” said Morrow. “Those guys all stay in the hotel, and it means 20 lunches every day for a local restaurant.”

Under retired staff sergeant Jack Kruger, Hay River became somewhat of a hub for RCMP training for not only members in the territory, but also for police forces from across Canada and North America. Morrow said he hopes the trend continues to grow.

All quiet on the Northern front

A few more traffic stops and one case of public underage drinking later, Morrow returns to the detachment for a short reprieve and to stretch his legs.

“These are the type of nights we like to see,” he said. “It means people are making good decisions.”

The following night, however, proved more typical of the normally-busy August long-weekend. On Saturday, the night-shift received no fewer than 24 calls, caught four drunk-drivers, handed out one 24-hour suspension for “driving with drugs,” as well as six traffic offence charges. Police broke up brawls outside the dance at the Don Stewart Recreation Centre and enforced the liquor ban at the Dene Assembly handgames tournament on the reserve – seizing contraband alcohol in the process – and also investigated an accident. In all, the detachment played host to a total of ten prisoners for the night.