RCMP in N.W.T. defend efforts to find Frank Gruben, missing from Fort Smith
RCMP in the Northwest Territories are defending their efforts to find a man who went missing from Fort Smith, N.W.T., earlier this month, and say they need people with information to come forward.
Family members and at least one MLA have questioned the RCMP's investigation, and suggested that police were not doing enough to find Frank Gruben, or keep his relatives informed.
30-year-old Gruben, a Gwich'in Inuvialuit who was born and raised in Aklavik, N.W.T., was last seen in Fort Smith on May 6, and was reported missing two days later.
In a statement on Friday, N.W.T. RCMP Supt. Dyson Smith said that since then, police have interviewed people, checked with other police forces, and acted "on every tip that has been received."
"One of the challenges in this investigation is that Mr. Gruben was last seen in the town of Fort Smith and there is no indication that he went into the surrounding wilderness, so as such there is no starting point for a ground search," Dyson's statement reads.
"The civilian search team has searched a number of areas and not uncovered any sign of Mr. Gruben."
Dyson said police are still following some leads and will continue to do "an exhaustive investigation" into Gruben's whereabouts. But he also said that police need people to come forward if they know anything.
Dyson also asserted that police have been in regular contact with a family liaison chosen by Gruben's relatives, and that the investigation so far has been thorough and impartial.
"A review has been conducted of the investigative steps taken thus far, and bias-free policing has been employed throughout," his statement reads.
"To suggest otherwise is not helpful, and detracts from where the real focus needs to be, which is a lack of viable information to bring this matter to a successful conclusion for Mr. Gruben and his family."
Also on Friday, Thebacha MLA Frieda Martselos spoke in the Legislative Assembly about the ongoing search.
She thanked many of the people involved, from the Salt River First Nation, the Town of Fort Smith, and the Gwich'in Tribal Council. She also thanked the territory's finance minister for granting emergency leave for government employees in Fort Smith the help with the search.