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Mayor, police chief, come together to discuss city's high homicide rate
Published Thursday, July 7, 2011 6:32PM MDT
Edmonton's overall crime rate in our city may not be on the rise, but the number of homicides is up.
Edmonton's new police chief and the mayor sat down Thursday to discuss that growing problem in our city.
Our city is now the murder capital in the country for far this year. And it's a distinction that pushed the mayor and the police chief into talks.
"Like any city that's moving ahead very quickly and growing very rapidly, we deal with those and maybe it's hiring more police officers. But we'll wait for the chief to come back with what he needs and what ideas he has," said Mayor Stephen Mandel.
To date, Edmonton is leading the country with 28 homicides. Toronto follows behind with 25, while Vancouver has recorded six and Calgary is at three.
"If it's 21, if it's 22, if it's 23, if it's 28...that's too many, so we want to focus our efforts on preventing those homicides and preventing those acts of violence before they occur," said Police Chief Rod Knecht.
The city's high homicide rate is being talked about online world, through Twitter and Facebook.
"I track statistics in Edmonton and since June first the words homicide and murder have been mentioned on Twitter by Edmontonians about 1,200 times," said Edmonton blogger Mack Male.
Male has been following what he calls a disturbing trend.
"I think that it is hurting our image…people on the street in Toronto when they think about Edmonton right now they're talking about the homicide rate," he said.
Thursday's meeting between the mayor and the police chief signals a step towards creating a plan to fight back against crime in our city and change a trend that's shining a spotlight on what the mayor calls an inaccurate reflection of Edmonton.
Following the meeting, the police chief suggested strategies on education, intelligence, enforcement, and undisclosed bylaw changes around knives, axes, and machetes.
The mayor says once a plan is in place, council will support any and all changes.
"We have a challenge in Edmonton right now. We need to fix that, but Edmonton is a safe city and as I said earlier, 82 per cent of the homicides that happen are people who know each other," said Mandel.
So far this year, ten of the city's 28 homicides have happened in the downtown, followed by nine in the northeast, and four homicides in the southwest. The city's southeast come behind with three and the northwest has recorded two homicides this year.
With files from Dez Melenka