December 10, 2023

The recent wave of gun violence and shootings in Calgary is concerning but reflective of national crime trends, police say.

In a news conference on Monday, Calgary Police Service Supt. Cory Dayley said the wave reflects trends of crime and gun violence happening across the country.

This comes after six shootings occurred in the city over the past four days, which police say have the “hallmarks of organized crime.”

It also comes after one person was killed in a shooting in a parking lot in Trans Canada Centre in northeast Calgary on Monday. Two others were sent to hospital in serious, life-threatening condition.

Police said the suspects are still at large as of Monday afternoon.

Dayley said the shootings were all targeted but added it does not mean they are not a threat to public safety.

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To date, CPS officers said they monitored over 350 people with alleged ties to organized crime. Of those, 83 were charged and arrested, sometimes multiple times.

Around 300 “crime guns” were seized, including nine guns possessed by those with alleged ties with organized crime, Dayley said.

“It’s unfortunately consistent with what we’re seeing across the country and across North America in regards to crime and gun violence,” Dayley told reporters.

“It is not common that there is this much violence so many days in a row … We’re working hard with multiple teams to try and connect the dots and try to suppress any retaliatory violence.”

The superintendent said the greater access to guns are part of the problem. Multiple teams of police officers are working to stop gun trafficking into the city, Dayley said.

He added the proposed legislation for bail reform will help solve some of the problems with gun violence and crime in the city.

In September, the Alberta government announced new protocols to address increasing concerns about violence being committed in the province’s major cities.

The new initiatives include the introduction of what the government calls “targeted prosecution units” as well changes to bail practice protocol.

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At a news conference in Edmonton, Justice Minister Mickey Amery said the new targeted prosecution units in Alberta’s major urban centres will consist of teams from the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service that will “focus on the increased level of crime and the prosecution of violent criminals in Edmonton and Calgary.”

These prosecutors will work with police to focus on issues specific to the communities, including drug houses, available social supports and their relation to the types of crimes being committed, the province said.

“Bail reforms will help us keep those who are responsible for the crimes in jail, and probably keep them safer. This life generally ends one way or another. If you stay in it long enough, it results in significant harm to you, your family members, or even death,” Dayley said.

While the uptick in crime is concerning, Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King said the police have a role to play to keep Calgarians informed.

According to King, it is important to not let the fear of crime affect Calgarians too much. Calgary is a relatively safe city with an “extraordinarily professional police agency,” he said.

“I think it’s up to the Calgary Police Service to get out and communicate with the general public about what’s going on and what they’re trying to do to prevent it,” King told Global News.

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“Oftentimes shootings happen in spurts. If they’re going in spurts, as we’ve seen over the last few days, they are connected, which typically means criminal organizations are behind it. The fact that they’re taking place in residential communities is really, really concerning.

“We just have to understand what’s going on, but we also have to get the information out to the general public.”

King advised Calgarians not to panic but be observant. Always call the police if anything seems off, he said.

“It is uncharacteristic for so many shootings to happen within the last three days,” King said.

“Based on statistical data and the ratio of shootings to population size, Toronto and Montreal are much safer than Calgary is. There are more shootings there, but they have a larger population.

“We need not fool ourselves into thinking everything’s okay here in Calgary, but we have an extraordinarily professional police agency and I can guarantee you they are already on this.”

— with files from Meaghan Archer, Global News

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Alberta introduces new protocols to crack down on repeat violent offenders

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