CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Calgary police commissioners got an earful at their monthly meeting on Tuesday as police outlined plans to better protect the Beltline.
The meeting comes on the heels of a report that revealed a spike in crime around the city’s only supervised consumption site at the Sheldon Chumir facility.
District 1 Inspector Rob Davidson laid out their short and long-term goals to address the systemic issues that have popped up around the Chumir.
Davidson says the short-term aspect of their plan involves addressing the public safety concerns while the long-term aspect deals with the CPS and its agency partners addressing the systemic rise in the use of methamphetamines.
“The number of officers that will be redeployed from other districts will be a sergeant and about 10 constables, that’s extra bodies that are coming into the district but we’re also seeing a redeployment of our own resources within the district as well,” said Davidson who referred to the downtown core as a hot spot.
According to the veteran officer, they don’t want to achieve what he calls a ‘sentinel presence’ but he’s hoping people will notice the increase in community engagement.
“It becomes extremely complex, there is no ‘balancing act’ when it comes to public safety,” he said. “That is our number one concern, so any action that is going to lead against crimes against persons, feeling of being unsafe, the illicit sale of drugs, there isn’t a balancing act there and will be heavily involved there.”
In where the perception of safety is decreased, he says they’ve been walking that fine line to ensure those on the street can get the help they need.
They are working closely with Alberta Health Services as part of the Health Canada exemption requirements and he’s hoping that will mean an updated report by April.
Davidson says he’d like to see an increase in calls to show they have not lost public trust while at the same time, a decrease in violence and random violence around the site.
He doesn’t anticipate any kind of major impact on any other district as they get those needed resources downtown.
His comments echoed by his commanding officer, interim Chief Steve Barlow.
“The random violence is the piece that has always concerned me from the very beginning and that’s the piece we want to see a drop in,” he told reporters. “Our goal will always be to work with those communities, specifically in that area.”
“It’s that next wrap-around service that will be key in getting us to move forward,” said Barlow.
He adds Alberta Health Services and Health Canada have slowed the process down on the proposed mobile site for East Calgary after hearing concerns.
“We’ve actually put a real dent in it (trafficking) when you move in situations like that and if it slows down or starts to stop, that’s a good sign and that means you’re having an impact,” he said.
Barlow added they continue to work with community members to target traffickers while ensuring addicts have the resources they need to get help.
Calgary Police Commission Chair Brian Thiessen appeared to be pretty happy with the latest update from police brass.
“There are a number of community partners that are working on safe injection sites, what the commission is concerned with is the service and the job they are doing around safe injection sites,” said Thiessen. “I’m very pleased they have developed and are enhancing their relationships with partners like AHS.”
“It’s going to be a community solution, it will not be a policing solution,” he added.