The severity of violent crime in Edmonton is up 12 per cent in the first six months of this year.
On Monday, Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee told reporters something needs to change, and soon.
“We get what we tolerate. If there’s no accountability, then we shouldn’t expect anything but chaos,” McFee told reporters.
Police say the increase in crime severity is primarily due to assaults, robberies and extortion.
“Largely driven by the shootings and the assaults we’ve unfortunately seen in the media and are currently investigating,” Ron Anderson, EPS chief innovation and technology officer, said.
McFee said the numbers show gaps between social and support services and federal legislation, leaving officer’s hands tied.
“You’ve got people using different drugs that are absolutely mind-altering and making people do bad things,” he said.
“I can no longer trip over somebody everyday I leave this mall that’s using meth, that’s freaking out and they’re scaring people.”
The city has seen a recent string of violence, from a father stabbed last week while picking up his family in downtown Edmonton to multiple random attacks outside LRT stations.
McFee says police want to work with prosecutors to better assess who needs to remain in jail.
“There’s a lot of people that should not be in the justice system, and for the most part I think we know who those are,” he said.
“We’re talking about criminals that are taking advantage of our disadvantaged.”
McFee says he wants to work with the city to do something about the encampments downtown, where he says violence often starts.
“It’s just moving from one block to the other, they’re coming from everywhere and I’m not sure when this became acceptable to the degree it is now.”
He’s urging Edmontonians to be cautious if they see someone who appears to be acting irrationally.
“Some of the people that get harmed is when they actually try to help people and you know if you’re not equipped or trained for that, it’s dangerous.”
The chief says the number one priority long term for EPS is to hire more officers.
As for right now, the service plans to change its approach on open-air drug use within the next six weeks.
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