December 22, 2006

Province Remains Committed to Safe and Secure Communities

Government remains committed to ensuring safe and secure communities and will build upon the unprecedented investments made in policing over the past three years.

�Upon taking office in 2003, the Williams government inherited two resource depleted police forces, suffering from low morale as a result of a decade or more of cutbacks. In fact, during a period between 1995 and 1997 alone the government of the day eliminated approximately 80 officer positions,� said the Honourable Tom Marshall Minister of Justice and Attorney General. �In three years the Williams government has hired approximately 114 police officers, not including the 30 recruits currently in training that will be hired upon graduation.

�In Budget 2006-07 alone, government made an unparalleled investment of an additional $10.1 million to accommodate this increase in police presence and ensure our officers have the right tools to perform their duties. We have increased the number of officers on our streets and highways and have ensured they are using new equipment such as vehicles, uniforms, side-arms, batons, and are receiving advanced training opportunities.�

The minister called the RNC Recruit Training Program with Memorial University a success story. This program was announced as part of Budget 2004 to train a minimum of 75 police officers over a three-year period. �We wanted to ensure additional highly trained RNC officers are available to patrol our streets and protect our families and communities. We have in fact surpassed the projected recruitment level by hiring all 28 graduates in the inaugural year; and 26 recruits who graduated in August 2006. Year three of the training program is currently underway with another 30 recruits,� said Minister Marshall. �This program has been described as �excellent� by Commissioner Antonio Lamer in his inquiry report and is a concrete illustration of this government�s commitment to protecting homes and communities throughout this province.�

Minister Marshall noted that government has also addressed RNC management challenges by re-organizing the management structure of the RNC. We have appointed a new chief and two new deputy chiefs from within the ranks, to lead this positive change in direction; appointing new superintendents and inspectors; creating new senior executive management positions as well as additional civilian clerical personnel to fill a number of administrative voids allowing uniformed officers to concentrate on core policing.

Government has made major investments in the RCMP who serve and protect our rural regions added Minister Marshall. �Along with the 36 RCMP officers, we have invested in much needed resources including improvements in the RCMP radio telecommunications system and funding to satisfy operational pressures. We also established an office at RCMP Headquarters at White Hills to operate the National Sex Offender Registry within the province.�

Minister Marshall said government is currently working with both the RNC and RCMP to combat the spread of illegal drugs, with a special focus on the distribution and use of crystal methamphetamine. �We are creating more enforcement tools for officers to use, and have already invested in drug awareness officers, drug sniffing K-9 units and have added 13 new positions to the Organized Crime Unit,� said Minister Marshall.

�The Williams government will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the people of this province feel safe and secure in their homes and communities,� concluded Minister Marshall.


Media contact:
Bill Hickey
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 691-6390

2006 12 22                                        12:15 p.m.

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