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EPS sets three-year plan to curb firearms violence and gang-related crime

For Immediate Release: 17-Nov-2022 @ 1:50 PM
MRU #: 22R105

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) has released a strategy to address firearm violence and gang-related crime in Edmonton. The EPS’ Guns and Gangs Strategy 2023-2025 is an evidence-based, data-driven plan for targeting factors driving some of the city’s most serious crime, identifying focus areas that require increased and sustained effort to improve community safety.

“Like many other cities across Canada, we’ve seen an unacceptable trend in illegal ownership and violent use of firearms. Our officers are seizing more firearms when responding to calls for service as perpetrators’ disregard for the safety of Edmontonians grows more brazen,” says Chief Dale McFee. “These acts of violence are closely linked with organized crime, and the level of victimization puts the safety of our communities at risk. Street gangs and organized crime networks are often entrenched in other illegal activities, such as trafficking illegal drugs, which too often exploits the most vulnerable in society. This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The strategy leverages EPS’ internal expertise and external partnerships with other enforcement and social agencies to strike a balance between education, suppression, intervention, and prevention. It encompasses both immediate and long-term solutions that hold those responsible for violence and criminal activities accountable, such as individuals or groups involved in shootings, straw purchasing, and the trafficking of drugs and firearms. It also bolsters EPS’ investigative processes and capacity by enhancing expertise across the Service, boosting evidence collection, intelligence gathering and analytics, and strengthening cross-agency collaboration for criminal networks that span multiple jurisdictions.

“As organized crime groups become more sophisticated, investigations – including shootings – are becoming more complex and resource-intensive,” says Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart of EPS’ Guns and Gangs Section. “The large majority of shootings are targeted but that doesn’t make it any less concerning or dangerous for the public and bystanders. We continue to work diligently, being proactive where we can and exhausting all investigative avenues, but the risks remain very real.”

Recognizing the need to simultaneously address behaviour change and persuade frequent offenders to exit criminal lifestyles, the strategy includes focused deterrence that blends enforcement, social service, and community approaches. Special consideration is given to how at-risk youth can be supported to prevent involvement with gangs and the criminal justice system before it happens.

“Effective and early intervention is crucial for at-risk youth,” says Michelle Fillion, Youth Services Section Manager. “Working with community partners, we can set young people on different pathways and provide access to supports that guide them away from activities or associations that may eventually entrench them in the criminal justice system.”

EPS’ Guns and Gangs Strategy was developed in consultation with external stakeholders such as the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service - Civil Forfeiture Office, RCMP - National Weapons Enforcement Support Team (NWEST), Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) and the Edmonton John Howard Society. It takes into consideration leading practices in the management of firearm violence, gangs, and organized crime.

The success of this strategy is dependent on confirmation of resourcing identified in EPS’ 2023-2026 Business Plan, which is subject to forthcoming discussions on the EPS funding formula in 2023. 

To learn more on what informs the strategy and how EPS will measure its success, visit edmontonpolice.ca/gunsandgangs.

Background
2022 Shootings YTD (Jan. 1 – Nov. 9): 138

  • 62% of shootings had the potential for innocent bystanders to be injured
  • 52% of shootings resulted in injury
  • 85% of shootings were targeted

2021 Shootings YTD (Jan. 1 – Nov. 9): 136

  • 47% of shootings had the potential for innocent bystanders to be injured
  • 57% of shootings resulted in injury
  • 71% of shootings were targeted

Citywide Crime Trends*

  • From January to September 2022, the total number of criminal incidents in Edmonton has increased by 12% (+7,952) compared to the same period in 2021. The number of violent criminal incidents has increased by 17% (+1,658) and non-violent criminal incidents has increased by 11% (+6,294).
  • In 2022 Q1-Q3, Edmonton experienced a 12% (+787) increase in the overall crime rate, a 10% (+8) increase in crime severity, a 17% (+165) increase in violent crime rate, a 6% (+6) increase in the severity of violent crime and a 12% (+9) increase in the severity of non-violent crime when compared to the same period in 2021.


* 2022 numbers are based on forecast and subject to change as some investigations are still in progress

Definitions
Straw Purchaser: An individual or group that purchases a firearm (or multiple firearms) for someone who is prohibited by law from possessing one, or for someone who does not want his or her name associated with the transaction.

Organized Crime Group Categories
In general terms, organized crime groups are categorized as organized crime group, criminal network or street gang. The delineation between the three rests with the level of organization, sophistication, and capacity that the group, network, or gang has to complete its illicit activities.

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For media inquiries please contact the EPS Media Relations Unit at
780-421-3551.

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