Well, it looks like Calgary has experienced a hectic week...regardless, our cities are very, very safe.
Calgary reeling after week of violence
Police investigators cancel holidays to handle rash of eight killings in eight days
Jamie Komarnicki, Calgary Herald
Published: 1:21 am
CALGARY - Calgary limped out of a bloody week of violence -- capped by a deadly weekend crime spate -- that strained police resources and left many residents on edge over safety in the city.
A downtown Calgary street was peppered with bullets during a gang shoot-out early Sunday morning. One man was killed, found slumped over his steering wheel.
Two other downtown area shootings were reported within 50 minutes of each other.
Hours later, police found the partially clothed body of a woman in the inner city Ramsay neighbourhood, dead of a violent assault.
A speeding car mowed down two young men outside the Whiskey nightclub early Saturday morning, leaving them dead before fleeing the scene.
All told, police are investigating eight deaths in the past eight days.
"It's definitely freaking me out. Every day another body," said Beltline resident Stephanie Oshiro, 21. "I'm scared to go out at night by myself. (The city) has definitely changed."
Longtime Calgarian Greg Bates, 40, said Calgary's small-town feel is long gone.
"I don't even go out to bars anymore in Calgary, I don't want to take the chance," he said.
"Maybe I'm being a little paranoid about it. Am I willing to take the chance of going to one of these areas and having somebody doing a drive-by? It's not worth it," he said.
Summer months usually see a spike in crime, said Mount Royal criminologist Doug King. But Calgary's experience in recent days is far from the norm, he said.
With more police officers patrolling downtown Calgary, authorities have focused on cleaning up the city's core to stamp out inner-city violence. But while overall crime rates are going down in Calgary, it's a different story in specific neighbourhoods, said King.
And the fact that some of the recent string of violent crimes in the city have occurred in heavily-populated areas including downtown, Beltline and Kensington, is cause for concern, King said.
Several police investigators cancelled holidays to keep up with this weekend's rash of crimes, Deputy Chief Peter Davison said.
Last week Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier said he's pushing for up to $5 million this fall to fund in part extra policing in the downtown core.
Davison pointed to the negative effects that come with the city's economic boom, but insisted Calgary is still a safe place to live.
"We're a city of a million people. We won't be crime free," Davison said.
"It's still a safe city. I believe downtown Calgary is safe."
But with the violent, public nature of the recent crimes, police need to assure the public they hear their concerns, King said.
"Whether or not they're prepared to acknowledge it's a trend, or an issue -- all they have to do is acknowledge the snapshot, and don't downplay it."
Mark Dahl, 29, lives a few block from the Whiskey where Saturday morning's deadly hit-and-run took place, and said he often hears cars racing up and down the streets at night -- a dangerous practice especially when people pour out of bars and clubs in the early morning hours.
"It may be more surprising these things don't happen more often," he said.
After learning of the violent death of the woman just blocks from his Ramsay home Mike Mudry, 29, says his girlfriend refuses to head out alone at night.
He was pragmatic about the spate of crimes.
"That's what happens when the population explodes. Any big city will have it," said Mudry. "You can't be paranoid all the time."
The record for Calgary was 31 homicides in 1992. Since June 1, homicide detectives have investigated eight deaths.
There have been 18 confirmed homicides in Calgary so far this year, and four more deaths under investigation, including the two men killed in Saturday's hit-and-run and Sunday's two suspicious deaths.
Despite being short of police officers to battle the city's violence, Davison says investigators are making headway in some recent crimes. Police may be making arrests in the case of a homeless man who was severely beaten near the Drop In Centre July 28, he said.
With the spike of highly visible crimes, there's certain to be unease amongst residents and some "pretty significant questions placed at the doorstep of people who can make change," King said.
The important thing is not to move from concern to panic, he said.
The community needs to be willing to invest some significant money in police and social agencies, King said.
"The quickest solution is not adding another 20 or 30 officers, it's adding another 200 officers. We need that kind of visibility from our police in all areas in the city of Calgary."
with files from Sherri Zickefoose.