Edmonton police released a plan to tackle gun and gang violence in the city Thursday, and a funding request of around $12 million to help implement it.
The strategy contains three focus areas: deterrence, investigative excellence and young people intervention.
According to police, there have been 138 shootings in 2022 so far. Eighty-five per cent were targeted, 62 per cent had the potential for innocent bystanders to be killed.
Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart is in EPS’ guns and gangs section. He said gang investigators use a focused deterrence approach, which involves blending enforcement, social service and community approaches to change the behaviour of repeat violent offenders.
“They’re communicating with a lot of these individuals involved in gang activity and organized crime,” said Stewart.
“They’re making sure these individuals are abiding by the law and if they’re about in our community, they’re making sure that they know that (the police) are out.”
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He said the gang suppression team is “very effective” in keeping gang members in check. However, the report said preliminary numbers are showing severe crimes are up 17 per cent this year. EPS said organized crime groups are becoming more sophisticated and more guns are being seized during investigations.
Stewart recommends moving the gang suppression unit from four to seven days a week.
To achieve what the report calls “investigative excellence,” Stewart said the police are asking for more firearms investigators. He said they get overwhelmed when they’re called to respond to a shooting.
“We’re looking to double that capacity as well because the best way to turn on this stuff is holding people accountable,” said Stewart.
Prevention is also part of the strategy.
“To get to the youth and get to these individuals that are thinking about joining these groups, that’s a long-term plan, and we’re fully engaged and willing to do that,” said Stewart.
This plan and the funding ask is subject to approval by council in the coming weeks as they debate the 2023-2026 municipal budget.
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