A rise in violent crime is a problem that’s plaguing cities across the country, and Moose Jaw, Sask., is no exception.
According to 2018 data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the Friendly City has the second-highest crime rate for municipal police services in the province; Prince Albert is number one.
Officers responded to more than 3,500 criminal code incidents last year, the second most since 2013.
Moose Jaw police aren’t just dealing with more crime, but a rise in more violent crimes. The city’s violent crime severity index has more than doubled since 2013, reflecting the spike in robberies, assaults, and crimes with weapons.
“It doesn’t seem specific to one demographic, but we are seeing a link to addictions that may contribute to this issue,” said Rick Johns, Moose Jaw’s deputy police chief.
Johns says a spike in methamphetamine and cocaine use is a driving factor.
“We face the same problems as every other city in the province and nationally are facing at the moment,” Johns said. “It is a concern because we want to ensure the health and safety of our people.”
The force is “actively monitoring” the rise in crime rate and working to develop strategies to combat the problem.
Last fall, Moose Jaw Police Service and the Saskatchewan Health Authority established a Police and Crisis Team (PACT) to address mental health needs.
“It’s proven to be very effective in the short time that it’s been in operation,” Johns said. “We’ve also established a Regional Child Abuse Team in partnership with the Province of Saskatchewan to be able to better address those issues.”
Moose Jaw police also expanded its canine unit to four dogs. The unit will give front line officers 24-hour coverage.