Kwanlin Dun to hire safety officers

McIntyre residents will soon be able to report crimes and safety concerns to officers hired from the community.

McIntyre residents will soon be able to report crimes and safety concerns to officers hired from the community.

On Friday the Yukon government and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation announced $1.4 million to fund a Community Safety Liaison Officer pilot program.

The money will cover the cost of hiring a justice service coordinator, a community safety coordinator and community safety liaison officers for the next three years.

The community safety liaison officers will be the first point of contact for KDFN citizens.

The announcement is part of a bigger plan to make the community of McIntyre safer after two murders in 2014 traumatized the community.

“The big difference here is the liaison officers will be our own people,” KDFN Chief Doris Bill said on Friday.

“They know the community, they know our people, they understand our culture.”

Those civilian officers will be coordinating with the RCMP, the city bylaw services and the Yukon government’s Safer Community and Neighourhoods unit.

When council started to look into making the community safer, it didn’t realize the extent of the safety issue, Bill said.

“In some cases alone the statistics alone would blow your mind,” she said.

In 2014 there were over a thousand calls to 911 from McIntyre residents.

The community has a little above 500 people.

That’s a staggering number, especially when comparing to other Yukon communities, KFDN’s justice director Jeanie Dendys said.

That same year there were 429 calls for service in Mayo and 371 in Teslin, both totaling just a little over 400 residents.

Bill said she would get incident reports after she was elected but felt like the problems were not dealt with as a whole.

“I felt that we were just tackling it on a piecemeal basis and really we weren’t going anywhere, spinning our wheels in some cases,” she said.

The First Nation underwent an assessment program to determine what should be done.

“This program brought it all together for us,” Bill said.

KDFN launched a tips line last December for citizens to report crimes. Last summer it also initiated a community-wide cleanup, replacing broken lights, removing hazardous materials and clearing brushes to improve safety.

“We’ve been able to target those particular problems that have been plaguing our community,” said Bill.

She is confident in the program because it was designed by and for KDFN citizens.

“I think our own citizens will make a huge difference when we see things happening in the community,” she said.

“Our people will be more receptive to calling them.”

Bill said she wants the program to be up and running as soon as possible but no precise date has been given.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at

pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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