Eleven Calgary officers have been redeployed to the downtown core in response to a spike in drug-related crime and violent crime since the opening of the city’s supervised consumption site.
At a Calgary Police Commission meeting on Tuesday, it was announced the officers — one sergeant and 10 constables — would be moved from other areas of the city to the downtown beat so they can serve the area around the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre where the consumption site is located.
Earlier this year, the Calgary Police Service (CPS) reported officers had seen a 276 per cent increase in drug-related calls near the site compared to the three-year average. There was also a 47 per cent increase in violence and a 45 per cent increase in break and enters compared to the three-year averages for both.
Speaking on Tuesday, Interim CPS Chief Steve Barlow confirmed they want to see a reduction in crime in the area.
“I will always try and make sure my officers are in areas where I feel crime rates are high. We did it last summer when we worked a lot in the downtown core. We were able to curb some of the violence and some of the trafficking in those areas, and I see us doing the same thing in that area.”
In January, Barlow said that while the supervised consumption site was established to target the opioid crisis in Calgary, “drug trends have shifted” and now, the most commonly used drug at the Chumir centre is meth.
“With that, we are seeing, occasionally, random acts of violence,” Insp. Rob Davidson said Tuesday. “That’s very concerning, it’s a very different response to the drug.”
According to the Calgary Police Commission, a new report with updated statistics should be completed by mid-April.
Chair Brian Thiessen said solving the problem completely will take more than beefing up the police presence in the impacted area.
“It’s going to be a community solution,” he said. “It’s not going to be a policing solution.”