Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2016 Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON) Copyright: 2016 Sun Media Contact: http://www.timminspress.com/letters Website: http://www.timminspress.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1001 Author: Alan S. Hale Page: A1 MOOSE CREE AIMS TO STEM FLOW OF 'DESTRUCTIVE' DRUGS MOOSE FACTORY - An effort is being made to cut off the flow of illegal drugs making its way into Moose Cree First Nation. The First Nation announced Wednesday it will be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of its own money to pay for two additional police officers and their equipment to begin working in the island community for the next year to crack down on drug trafficking. The additional officers will be sent to Moose Factory from the Nishnawbe-aski Police Service (NAPS) but according to the force they will be regular-duty officers, not drug enforcement officers. Nonetheless, the First Nation and NAPS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which underscores "their joint commitment to fight drug trafficking, and to work together to ensure a safe and healthy community." "Today is a significant day for our community," said Moose Cree Chief Norm Hardisty Jr. said in a statement. "Our people have been clear that they want steps taken to reduce drug abuse and the trafficking of drugs in our community. We recognize that drug use is destructive. It is hurting our children, families and community and we are committed to working with the Nishnawbe-aski Police Service to prevent and reduce it to the greatest extent possible." Community members stated during a recent series of town hall meetings dealing with local social problems that the prevalent abuse of drugs such as cocaine within their community was one of their top concerns. It was at that point, the chief and council decided they may need more manpower to bring the drug situation under control. Moose Cree Deputy-chief Earl Cheechoo said drug abuse and addiction in his community is not all that different than what you would see in Timmins. However, because of how small and close-knit community is, one person's drug problem can affect everyone. "People put drugs before their families, before their own well-being, before their basic needs," said Cheechoo. "It impacts their kids, the family, the whole community is affected." With two extra officers on the island reserve, the hope is that it will make smuggling in and selling drugs much more difficult. Cheechoo said if there is a significant drop in the amount ofdrugs, the community will look at making the new positions permanent. But the deputy-chief is sceptical that even two more officers will truly be able to make a huge impact because of the chronic underfunding that the Aboriginal police service has been dealing with for many years. It is something he and the rest of the community leaders want the federal government to address. "Right now we lack the resources to tackle this issue," said Cheechoo. "OPP and NAPS are two different types of police forces. In comparison, OPP in Moosonee (off-reserve) have 15 officers, while NAPS in Moose Factory (on-reserve) has eight officers. Both places have the same population. "NAPS has tried their best to protect this community over the years, but it's been hard for them to do it. So the leadership of the Moose Cree have stepped in to get more resources for our police force."