It has been quite a year for the Eeyou Eenou Police Force, which is completing its second year as a unified police force. With many successful arrests and the start of a new training program, the EEPF has established its reputation and made the force more professional.
There are many facets to working as an EEPF police officer. For one thing, they are serving the Cree-speaking communities and as such it is important for them to be able to communicate with the citizens of Eeyou Istchee.
The year got off to a running start with Collège Ellis in Drummondville and the Cree School Board partnering up to form an AEC Police Technology program for First Nations and Inuit students. The program was set up to ensure their new recruits receive a full and up-to-date training on par with the rest of the country. The program is 12 months long with the first group of 21 recruits set to embark on a 14-week Police Patrolling training in the coming months.
Along with the Police Technology program, the EEPF has been given a green light by the Quebec public security ministry to send recruits to the Special Constable Training Program offered by the École nationale de police du Québec in Nicolet. Graduates of the program are guaranteed contractual employment with EEPF.
In line with their duties to protect and serve the people of Eeyou Istchee, the EEPF has set up a Facebook page where there are constant updates to the road conditions of the James Bay Highway. This information is posted by the EEPF as well as by many drivers using the highway. The Facebook group is just one of the facets which connects the EEPF with the communities they serve.
In June, six officers were honoured for their continued service to the community. Senior Officers Jim Hester and Tammy Coon were awarded for their 30 and 20 years of service, respectively. Officers Willie Gunner, David Lariviere and Nellie Mathias were recognized for their 15 years of service along with officer Tommy Grant, who has served 20 years. In November, Constable Charlie Gunner was awarded the Medal of Bravery by Governor General David Johnston for his role in the arrest of a man shooting randomly in the streets of Mistissini.
The year also saw a high number of drug busts in the region. The most notable of these occurred in Whapmagoostui during Operation Whapmag last October, when 16 officers searched four locations and seized a large amount of contraband and firearms.
Between July and November 2012 there were seven large busts in which the police seized illegal narcotics and alcohol as well as firearms. The message Police Chief Reggie Bobbish has reiterated with these busts is that the EEPF will not tolerate any perpetrators providing drugs and alcohol.
On a side note, the last recorded 2012 murder in Eeyou Istchee happened in Whapmagoostui-Kujjuarapik, where a 52-year-old victim was slain December 15. The case has been passed on to the Sûreté du Québec, which has apprehended a suspect. However, the SQ has not released any other details regarding this case despite repeated requests.
It has been a busy year, one in which the EEPF has grown both in size and in their efforts to reach out to the people they serve. Official statistics for 2012 will be released to the public in April to provide a more complete picture of what has occurred over the year.