Friday, October 20, 2006

Saskatoon StarPhoenix letter to the editor – October 20, 2006

Crime rate not down

The StarPhoenix

Friday, October 20, 2006

In the 2006 Saskatoon Voter's Guide, I notice Mayor Don Atchison's profile says that during his tenure as chair of the police commission, Saskatoon's crime rates have fallen.

This is not entirely accurate.

While crimes such as break and enters may be down, other more serious offences have risen. According to the Saskatoon Police Services' 2005 annual report, the following have increased since 2004: attempted murder, sexual assaults, robbery, criminal harassment (stalking), mischief/wilful damage, controlled drugs and substances, and crimes that include kidnapping, abduction, extortion and uttering threats.

So far this year I believe eight murders have been committed.

The crime rate in Saskatoon was so high in 2005 that the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics declared our city number one in the country. Once again we're the crime capital of Canada.

In addition the Saskatchewan Police Complaints Investigator reported that 79 complaints were filed against the Saskatoon Police Service in 2005/06, an increase of 23.4 per cent from 2004/05.

During the last civic election Atchison said "we need a police commission with the mayor as the chair to make the commission accountable to council directly." The problem with this statement is that the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners does not report to city council.

The police board is an independent board that is not supervised by council. The supervisor of the board is the Saskatchewan Police Commission, and ultimately, the minister of justice -- not city council.

The purpose of an independent board is to act as a buffer or insulator between the police and city council. Atchison seems to have failed to grasp this important concept.

With the mayor and councillors making up the majority of the board, politics within policing has become deeply entrenched. Civic voters, however, have the opportunity to change that on election day.

Joseph Lauzon

© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006


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