Surge in gun violence has city officials searching for answers
CALGARY -- After an innocent bystander was shot in Southview Saturday, some Calgarians say the rising amount of gun violence in the city needs to be addressed.
The first months of 2020 saw a surge in firearm-related crime, with 66 shootings taking place by the end of July.
That represents a 120 per cent increase from the same time last year, and a trend that is continuing to move upwards.
This week, Calgary’s newly-created Public Safety Task Force will meet for the third time to discuss how to curb the violence.
“We will be looking at the gaps and bringing forward recommendations later this year or early next year to find solutions,” Ward 5 councillor George Chahal said.
Chahal has played a major role in combatting both guns and gangs over the last term.
Sunday, he acknowledged the solution could be a ways away.
“We need early invention,” he said. “Working with youth in our community needs to be our core focus. The solutions we had in the past just aren’t working today.”
Many of Calgary’s shootings are targeted. Chahal acknowledges a growing gang problem, and points to after-school programs and sports as a potential solution to deter youth from poor lifestyle decisions.
He’d like to see more time and money spent on initiatives like the Integrated School Support Program.
It’s currently giving at-risk students in two northeast schools access to psychologists, police and social workers.
Jean Bota, who heads the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association, agrees with Chahal’s push for early invention.
“I do believe that’s where we need to start: within our communities,” she said. “Crime to me equates broken systems, broken agencies and sometimes broken communities. (We need) prevention, intervention and education.”
“There is a lot of research out there right now that can substantiate that.”
The task force is set to meet Friday morning. Chahal says he hopes to discuss the allocation of funding for the Calgary Police Service and the inclusion of social workers in the city’s crime prevention plans.
Police are continuing to investigate Saturday’s fatal shooting.