Police lay out evidence markers after a person was struck by a vehicle and killed during the night in downtown Whitehorse on Feb. 8. The Yukon government’s Department of Justice has released its policing priorities for 2018-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Justice department releases Yukon policing priorities for 2018-19

Priorities for this year include addressing violence towards women and building better relationships with First Nations

The Yukon Department of Justice has released its policing priorities for 2018-19.

The priorities this year are enhancing the response to violence against women, “proactively” responding to “serious and organized crime,” reaching out to children and youth and promoting “strong relationships with First Nations, communities and partner agencies.”

The annual list is created with combined input from the Yukon Police Council and the territorial justice department. The four points on this year’s list have appeared annually since at least 2015-16.

In a phone interview July 19, Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said that’s not because the issues aren’t being addressed, but because they remain points that Yukon citizens want the RCMP to focus on.

“That work, of course, is ongoing and we’re building relationships with communities,” she said.

“While we hope that our priorities do evolve in some ways, certainly, those are items we heard from the stakeholders who participated in the Yukon Police Council who make sure that those were still priorities for our government and for the RCMP and for communities.… These are things that are important to Yukoners and therefore are important to our police service.”

Yukon RCMP Commanding Officer Chief Supt. Scott Sheppard agreed.

“There’s really, one year to the next, if you were to look through these priorities, you wouldn’t see wild changes, and, I mean, that’s not necessarily surprising,” he said in a phone interview July 19. “These remain priorities for a number reasons, either because they remain concerns to the Yukon residents, to Yukon Police Council and the ministry as a whole or to us as the policing partner.”

Because priorities are similar year to year, Sheppard said that the Yukon RCMP has often already done work on addressing them — for example, police have been training members on how to handle issues like sexual assault and domestic violence with more sensitivity, have members participating in school activities, and have members reaching out and talking to First Nations leaders in the communities they’re stationed in.

“I think if you were to compare the priorities prepared by the Yukon Police Council and you were to take the RCMP and say, ‘Okay, we want you to prepare a list yourself and we’re going to get together and compare them,’ there wouldn’t be a whole lot of daylight between the two,” he said.

Even so, he said the priorities serve as a useful guide for Yukon RCMP from year to year.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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