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The Birth of RCMP 'M' Division, Yukon

Yukon Peace Officer Honour Roll
Crime & Policing in the North

From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Annual Report, 1974-1975

Northern Work

    The policing of Canada's North is carried out by members of the Force in two Divisions. "G" Division looks after the Northwest Territories and effective July 1, 1974 it relinguished the Yukon Territory which came into its own as "M" Division.

"M" Division

    On July 1, 1974 RCMP Commissioner, M. J. Nadon, officiated at an official opening ceremony held at Whitehorse at which time the Yukon Territory historically became known to the Force as "M" Division.

    Previously known as Whitehorse Sub-Division of "G" Division, "M" Division gained at the time of its inception, the territory of the Peel River area in the east central area of the Yukon, formerly policed from Fort McPherson Detachment, as well as the Herschel Island and north coast area, formerly policed from Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik Detachments. In both cases, the described area fell under the command of the Inuvik Sub-Division of "G" Division. In addition, "M" Division has the responsibility of policing three small areas of Northern British Columbia which, for geographic reasons, are more easily accessible from the Yukon. Apart from some by-law enforcement officers within the City of Whitehorse, the R.C.M.P. is the only law enforcement agency within "M" Division responsible for the enforcement of the Criminal Code, Federal Statutes, as well as Territorial Ordinances in an area comprising 207,076 square miles of land and containing approximately 23,000 widely scattered inhabitants.

    "M" Division is comprised of eleven regular and one summer Detachment with the capital City, Whitehorse, serving as Division Headquarters. There is also a domestic airport Detachment at Whitehorse, primarily to maintain airport security. The Division also realizes the support services of G.I.S., Drugs, Identification and Telecommunications Branches and Sections as well as an Air Detachment, which presently has one Twin Otter aircraft.

    The strength of "M" Division, as of 31 March 75, was 69 Regular Members, 11 Special Constables, 4 Civilian Members and 7 Public Servants for a total establishment of 91.

    In view of "M" Division's infancy, 1974/75 crime statistics have to be compared against those of Whitehorse Sub-DivisionŐs for 1973/74. Comparative statistics are as follows:

    The construction of the North Slope pipeline through Alaska from the Arctic Coast to Valdez is felt to be one of the major contributing factors for the increase of criminal activities within the Yukon. Similarly, the noticeable increase in traffic offences and motor vehicle accidents is attributed to the pipeline and increased activity in Alaska, as both commercial and private vehicular traffic did not decrease to its normal fall/winter flow in 1974/75.

    During the opening ceremonies of "M" Division, Commissioner Nadon made mention of the First "M" Division, which opened in 1903 and continued until 1917, responsible for a large parcel of the Northwest Territories around the Hudson's Bay and a portion of northern Manitoba. Commissioner Nadon related that in 1912 two men were murdered near Bathurst Inlet, N.W.T., and it had taken a full year for this news to reach the outside. "M" Division of that time initiated a patrol to investigate, however, a combination of circumstances prevented the patrol from reaching the area until 1918, six years after the offence had occurred. A comparison was drawn between this case and a recent one reported to our Carmacks Detachment on May 30, 1974, involving the discovery of a male body shot to death several weeks earlier.

    At this particular time a CPIC computer terminal was being installed at Whitehorse, although it was not completely operational. The investigators had identified the deceased and developed a prime suspect within seven hours of starting the investigation. What information had been gained was fed into the CPIC terminal and less than 12 hours later CPIC replied that the suspect had been located, in custody for another offence, the width of the continent in New York State.

    This fast break in the case played an important part in recovering the suspected murder weapon and the suspect's car, which incidentally, had been reported stolen in the United States.

    The suspect was returned to the Yukon in March 75 and, after a preliminary hearing, was retained in custody and committed to trial for the alleged offence.

    As a first year accomplishment, the members of "M" Division were successful in winning the Commissioner MacBrien Shield, awarded annually to the Division attaining the highest average score by its personnel during the firing of the practical pistol course. The members of "M" Division were not only successful in winning the competition, but had done so with the distinction of having the record high average score under the new style of pistol course classification established in 1969.

The photographs below, by Miriam Showatter, were published in The Whitehorse Star on July 3, 1974