Northern police look to keep Aboriginal youth out of trouble

Policing from across northern Canada are looking at ways to keep Aboriginal youth out of trouble.

The police, along with justice officials, are meeting in Whitehorse this week for a conference.

Dennis Cooley, who headed a recent Yukon police review, said he has concerns about the future of youth in the North.

"There's a wave of youth entering their crime-prone years in our regions, and we simply cannot afford to hire the police officers, the judges, the corrections officers or build enough police stations, court houses or correctional centres that we need if we're going to keep doing things the same way," said Cooley.

It’s a challenge Vern White understands well. White is now a Senator, but he spent years as an RCMP officer in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

"We have 100 years plus of history between the RCMP and the communities we serve in the three northern territories. Over that 100 years, there's a lot of shit happens that not all of us are proud of. We've made mistakes, we've had problems."

White said the immediate priority is to overcome the communication gap between RCMP and First Nations people.

"I think we need to start talking about 'where's the disconnect'? and I do think the disconnect is a bit about communication."

The conference will also explore what attributes make for a good police officer in an isolated northern community, as well as look into ways of recruiting more Aboriginal people.

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