March 30, 2015 1:51 pm

Police chief worried Saskatoon crime rates may go up

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Watch above: Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill speaks with Lisa Dutton about the recent shootings in Saskatoon and what might be behind the spike. 

SASKATOON – After years of decline, Saskatoon’s police chief is worried that crime rates in the city are going to start to go up.

“I think we’ve hit a tipping point, we’ve seen crime go down for several years, over the last decade.” Chief Clive Weighill told Global News.

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“I think we’ve hit a tipping point where we’re going to start to see things increase again.”

“I think people have to be aware of what’s going on in the city,” he added. “We’ve got some serious gang activity happening, some serious drug things going on, we’re hoping we can get a handle on it like we did the last couple of years, but it really is an escalating problem for us.”

Over the weekend there was a shooting in Saskatoon, and last week there were two shootings. One man narrowly escaped death after a shotgun was fired through a door, wounding him.

READ MORE: Two Saskatoon shootings leave two injured, one from shotgun blast

“We’ve seen a marked increase (in gun violence) in this last while,” he said.

“Most of its attributable to the drug trade, gang activity, there’s a bit of a turf war going on here in the city.”

He said the increase in violence is stretching the police service to its limits. Earlier this year Weighill announced a re-deployment of officers to put more on the street.

“Our officers on patrol couldn’t keep up with the call load … it just seems like our service is being stretched in every direction right now,” he said, adding he’s pulling officers out of specialized units to try and meet the growing demand for front line police.

“To put more officers downtown, to put more officers on patrol, I’ve got to pull officers out of the schools, out of the gang unit, out of the drug unit … we’re having a pretty tough time in the service trying to figure out how do we put our resources, where do we go with our resources.”

Chief Weighill says staffing is one issue, but there are also bigger problems at work.

“We have a huge marginalized population, and the poverty , the poor housing, the racism and all that stuff that’s enticing people into gangs because they don’t feel like they belong in the mainstream of what’s happening here in Saskatoon, so it’s a big complex social issue we’re grappling with.”

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