Calgary’s police chief sums up 2016 in just a few words: “it has been a difficult year.”
The past 12 months have seen a spike in crime, much of which Chief Roger Chaffin attributes to a growing fentanyl and methamphetamine crisis in the city.
In his yearly sit-down interview with Global’s crime reporter Nancy Hixt, Chaffin said the increased drug use creates chaos and uncertainty.
“Not knowing what you are approaching every time you go to a call what the motivation for this person is…oftentimes our officers and the public have been in very critical and problematic situations.”
That includes an unprecedented number of officer-involved shootings. Police fired their guns 10 times—in five cases those were fatal shootings.
READ MORE: What we know about the 10 Calgary police-involved shootings in 2016
“When you see ten shootings, there are ten opportunities there for our officers to have been critically injured or killed,” Chaffin said.
“It’s really incumbent upon me and the service to make sure we’re finding ways to lower the presence of that chaos in those critical situations.”
READ MORE: Calgary police chief cites economy, new drugs in crime increase – ‘we need more help’
Starting in January, Calgarians can also expect to see a change in how CPS deals with auto theft.
“We will be looking for a new policy and mission statement around stolen vehicles because that has been very central to all the crimes being committed in the city,” Chaffin said.
“People are stealing cars to commit crimes, people are stealing cars to feed their addictions and the numbers of stolen vehicles are so high. And the willingness to not be stopped and put our officers in such dramatically dangerous situations means a change in tactics,” he continued.
The chief said he is also requesting an independent external review of CPS operations.
Watch below: Mount Royal University department of justice studies professor Doug King joins Global Calgary to discuss the decision to have an independent review following a high number of officer-involved shootings in Calgary.
One of the deputy chiefs has been tasked with finding an appropriate person to lead that review; the chief’s only stipulation is that it not be someone from a police agency.
Chaffin said he is confident 2017 will be a better year.
“Every time you have a slip…your only goal is to fix it. Go forward and improve.”