Regina’s police chief says gang activity and domestic conflict are major contributing factors to the city’s high murder rate.
According to numbers released by Statistics Canada on Thursday, Regina had the third highest murder rate in the country based on population size, recording eight murders in 2016.
For Regina Police Chief Evan Bray, any time there’s a murder, it’s important to look beyond the numbers to understand the human impact.
“We’re talking about people losing their lives, we’re talking about really changing families’ lives and, in many cases, wrecking lives well-beyond the act of the homicide,” Bray told Gormley on 980 CJME.
Bray said that gang violence is a big concern for police.
“We are seeing an increase in gang activity,” Bray said. “We talk about the prevalence of drugs and firearms in our community and many times those are associated with the high-risk lifestyle that comes with gangs.”
He said that about 40 per cent of the murders in 2016 were gang-related.
Bray also pointed out that one of the things not really covered in the report was the problem of domestic conflict and how that can relate to the murder rate in the province.
“That’s one of those things that we as police have really dug into because we know there are indicators that occur.”
He said there are signs that police and other service providers can focus on to ensure domestic violence doesn’t escalate to the point where someone gets killed.
Bray said murders often happen in a house where the victim and perpetrator know each other. He also said drugs and alcohol can be involved.
One of the ways police are trying to prevent these types of situations from forming is the “hub model.”
Bray said this involves getting people involved from a wide variety of services, including health and police services, and looking at high-risk situations where an intervention may be needed. The group then decides who is best equipped to help and then resources can be focused on that situation.
The province still has the highest murder rate based on the population measurement of 100,000 people. Saskatoon had 10 murders but ranks sixth among the list of cities while Thunder Bay and Edmonton are at the top of the list.