Edmontonians deserve better crime plan: expert
Amanda Ferguson, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Monday, September 22, 2008 5:59PM MDT
A well-known city criminologist slammed the mayor's call for a committee on crime prevention Monday, saying Edmonton does not need another slow-moving body to address its growing violence problem.
Criminologist Bill Pitt said the city's reputation is worsening each day as gangs continue to infest the city -- and a committee is not going to solve the problem fast enough.
"The people of this city deserve better than what they're getting," he said. "There's no plan in place."
His comments come one day after Mayor Stephen Mandel said the two most recent homicides highlight the need for a new committee on crime prevention.
The mayor defended his action plan Monday, saying Edmonton would not be facing these problems today if a committee had been set up 25 years ago.
"It's not going to be easy and this is not an overnight solution," he said. "This isn't going to stop next week from any violent crime happening. This is down the road."
Under the mayor's new plan, the committee will take five or six months to gather information and then make an action plan at a later date.
Pitt says months or even years are too long to wait for a plan to be put in place.
"We're seeing this politicized and kicked around like a football," he said. "It's time to do something about it."
Two people were killed less than 30 minutes apart Sunday, prompting calls for action on the city's troubling crime rate.
Officers found the body of a 30-year-old man in a luxury car near the Whitemud and 170 Street around 2:20 a.m. Sunday. The vehicle had been sprayed by bullets.
A short time later, a 24-year-old man was died in hospital after a fight broke out between two groups on Whyte Avenue.
Ralph Eugene Pike, 32, was charged Monday with second-degree murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
Police are still looking for suspects in the shooting death, which officers believe is gang-related.
Pitt says the violence can be explained by the city's growing gang culture.
"You've got Iranian gangs, now gangs from the Middle East, Somalia," he said. "They're all organizing and cobbling together at the lower levels and that's really where this violence is really located, at the street level."
City Coun. Karen Liebovici dismissed Pitt's claims Monday that Edmonton's gang problems are unique.
"Murders happen," she said. "Unfortunately they happen and so I wouldn't say Edmonton is unsafe because of the two murders that happened."
Autopsy results on the Whitemud shooting victim are not expected until Tuesday.
With a report from CTV Edmonton's Scott Roberts