Edmonton police are concerned about the recent spike in violent crimes around the city.
Violent crimes increased 27 per cent in July compared to Edmonton’s three-year average, according to police.
Police said it has been caused primarily by a rise in serious, violent assaults. There was an 88-per cent spike in assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm and a 34-per cent increase in aggravated assault crimes in July compared to the average over the previous three years for the same month, police said.
Supt. Brad Doucette said while it’s difficult to pinpoint the reason for the increase, he isn’t ruling out the possibility the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact.
“It could be a contributing factor. Just the fact that people have been cooped up for a long time, and we’re seeing certainly more domestic violence, it has come about as a result of COVID,” Doucette said.
There have been eight suspicious deaths in Edmonton since July 11, with five of those being confirmed as homicides, according to police.
On Thursday, there were two deaths which homicide detectives are now investigating. Police said one of those deaths happened in the area of 166 Street and Stony Plain Road where a man died before paramedics could take him to hospital.
Meanwhile, another man was pronounced dead at a home in the area of 24 Avenue and 108 Street after first responders were called to the scene around 4 p.m.
Police said at around 7:45 p.m. Thursday, a man approached a woman who was waiting in the passenger seat of a parked vehicle at 98 Avenue and 104 Street, police said. The suspect asked the woman for money then stabbed her several times, according to investigators.
A 20-year-old man was taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.
Doucette said prior to this week, there was one less homicide this year compared to the same time in 2019, but added the numbers don’t tell the entire story.
“We’ve had quite a few very near misses with aggravated assaults, stabbings, those types of things, where people have gotten their medical attention in a very quick manner and managed to survive… some with debilitating injuries but they have survived,” he said.
“So while the homicide rate has remained relatively stable, the actual aggravated assaults and injuries are way up.”
Doucette said resources from other investigative units have been moved to help with the increase in violent crimes.
“So far, we’re managing to keep our head above water, but we’re starting to get tasked to the max here.”
The police superintendent is asking Edmonton residents to call police if they witness suspicious activity or are a victim of crime.
“We’re seeing a bit of a trend of late where people are posting stuff on social media. We don’t get it until our social media folks actually monitor and see it. They’ll say, ‘Hey, has this been reported’; that’s when our folks pick it up off social media,” Doucette said.
“That’s concerning. We can’t get ahead of trends or patterns when the people don’t tell us what’s happening.”