Police Chief focused on early intervention in new strategy to combat gang violence
CALGARY -- A new anti-gang strategy from Calgary police aims to put a stop to violent activity and organized crime across the city.
The strategy, approved by CPS in January, is part of a plan to properly engage the public and make sure Calgarians feel safe by decreasing violent activity such as shootings.
Chief Mark Neufeld says the key will be prevention and early intervention with youth to prevent crimes before they happen.
"We’ll see less gang-related homicides and we’ll see less gang-related shootings that involve serious injury or property damage," Neufeld said.
"And the other thing we’ll see is a higher level of engagement in the community as well so we better understand some of the issues these communities are facing."
Violent activity has been prominent in the city with the number of crimes increasing each year since 2016.
According to police data, there was 14,023 violent crimes in Calgary in 2019.
Last year also saw 89 shooting incidents; a spike from the 47 in 2018 and well above the five-year average of 71.
So far in 2020, there have been nine shootings.
The Calgary Police Commission says a big component of the strategy will involve preventing young people from entering a life of crime.
Partnerships are now in place between CPS and YouthLink, which runs educational programs for children in elementary and junior high schools.
Neufeld adds that additional resources will also be added to this gang strategy and doesn’t expect any surprises from the UCP government in the upcoming provincial budget released on Thursday.
He says better coordination of all four bureaus in the city will help to gain valuable intelligence on gangs and target their networks.
"I think across a large organization, one of the biggest challenges is making sure we have better coordination and making sure everyone is plugged in on a 24 by seven by 365 basis."
Neufeld also touched on plans for police to properly handle blockades or protests in support of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
He did not make clear what a response plan would look like, but says his team has strong relationships with Calgary’s indigenous communities and would strive not to use any sort of force during a public demonstration.