Warning this story contains graphic content.

Concerns were raised about the RCMP neglecting their duties last night by all YK Centre candidates.

The Open NWT YK Centre election forum took place on Sept. 18 in J.H. Sissons school gym, as Thom Jarvis, Arlene Hache, Niels Konge and incumbent Julie Green agreed that downtown Yellowknife has become a “Lawless battlefield.”

The police have indicated and they were actually quite the public with it, that they were not going to enforce a lot of laws and public displays,” Jarvis said.  “The word gets around quick people know, we essentially developed a culture of lawlessness that is permeated downtown.”

Thom Jarvis says the police are nowhere to be found in the downtown area. Arthur C. Green/The Moose

Jarvis currently lives in the downtown region of the city and says the violence continues to grow each and every day.

“I hear it. When I’m watching TV from my window, I go on my balcony, I see people getting attacked,” Jarvis said. “I see people getting beat up, I see women getting abused, you see a lot of violence and nothing’s happened, where are the police?”

Jarvis says the police are nowhere to be found in the downtown area.

“They could be the other end of town checking out some ladies registration sticker or something,” Jarvis said. “Meanwhile, all hell’s breaking loose downtown.”

The social issues plaguing downtown Yellowknife has become magnified recently following the death on a man outside of Yellowknife’s sobering centre and day shelter.

“The RCMP cannot be allowed to ignore their job,” Hache said. “It still is a crime to be publicly intoxicated, and to harass people in public.”

The Moose FM reached out to residents in Yellowknife today to gain perspective on what is taking place in downtown Yellowknife and occurrences which they have witnessed.

One witness, who cannot be named, stated that the downtown region is out of control. As public drinking and drug use is highly visible on a daily basis.

An outreach worker collects alcohol bottles on Sept. 19 in an alleyway in downtown Yellowknife. Public drinking is an issue being ignored by the RCMP in downtown according to the MLA candidates. Arthur C. Green/The Moose

“In the alleyway behind the sobering centre I noticed a woman performing oral sex on a male while another was watching by the entrance to my work. so I had to walk past it to get to work,” the witness said. “Then when I  was leaving I noticed a different set of two men and a woman smoking what looked like a crack based substance on a glass pipe she was using and the male was lighting a substance on a spoon in broad daylight at around 1:30 p.m.”

Hache suggested that a more visible police presence is needed in the downtown region, while Konge, a city councilor said that the issue “is not a Yellowknife issue,” but a territorial one. Konge says that the RCMP have a role to play in addressing the problems.

“So do Politicians, Health, Social Services, NGO’s and the homeless themselves,” Konge posted on The Moose Facebook page. “There is no one group by themselves that will fix this.”

Incumbent Julie Green. Arthur C. Green/The Moose

“The reason the RCMP is not in downtown only and all the time is that there’s the whole city to police,” Green said. “It’s worth noting that the GNWT roll with the RCMP is to sign the cheques. They’re an autonomous organization, they decide their own policing priorities and I understand that they have stepped up their patrols on 50th Street. I’m not saying it’s enough, but it’s been supplemented by the street patrol group. So there are actions underway  to address the problems that we all see.”

The Moose FM reached out to the RCMP for comment.

“We understand the public’s interest in the debate topics,” Julie Plourde, Media Relations Officer with the
Northwest Territories RCMP said.
“The RCMP must carry out their duties in a non-partisan manner, as such, we cannot be seen to be interfering in an election campaign, so we politely decline to comment.”

agreen@vistaradio.ca

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