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'No surprise' Thunder Bay has most homicides per capita in Canada: says police chief

Jul 24, 2019 09:32AM ● By Editor

By Logan Turner from CBC News Thunder Bay · July 24, 2019

Thunder Bay's police chief said it was "no surprise" that the northwestern Ontario city had the most homicides per capita of all municipalities in Canada in 2018.

Statistics Canada released its annual crime data reports on July 22, which showed that Thunder Bay had an increasing rate of homicides, violent crime, robberies, break and enters and motor vehicle theft, among other criminal incidents.

In response to the reports, Chief Sylvie Hauth said, "we do have very high socio-economic issues in our community and we also have a very active drug trade, so we're seeing a steady increase in terms of homicides and in terms of violent crime."

The police chief added that a diversifying and increasing number of service calls - including calls related to mental health and addictions - have put an enormous strain on the police service, especially because they may not be fully equipped to respond to all of these situations.

"I don't think policing was ever meant to solve all of the issues that we're seeing, and there is tremendous strain right now - not only on police services but paramedics and emergency as well," Hauth said. "So what we've been trying to do as a policing agency is take a look at some of the trends that we're seeing and partner with other agencies."

One of those partnerships, according to Hauth, includes the "joint mobile crisis response team." It is a partnership between the city police and the Thunder Bay-branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and it focuses specifically on mental health calls for service, which are "very resource-intensive from a police standpoint."

Hauth said, "that partnership really helps us to have a more client-centred approach but also really maximize our use of resources and work hand-in-hand with a community partner."

However, Hauth said the police service and other emergency services in Thunder Bay still need more resources and partnerships to adequately respond to rising addiction rates and the active drug trade in the region.

"I've been very vocal reaching out provincially and federally for 'guns and gangs' money. We currently have a task force in place, but I think it's something that needs to continue in partnerships with other policing agencies to really tackle that influx of not only drugs but also gang members to ensure that we look after the well-being and safety of everyone that calls Thunder Bay home."

To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the CBC Thunder Bay website.
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