Ending Calgary Gang Violence: Police Crackdown, or Community Outreach?

A recent editorial in the Calgary Sun blames the lack of a permanent police chief for the Calgary Police Service for the increase in gang activity and violence the city has witnessed recently.

Rick Hanson, who held the position as the person in charge of the Calgary Police Service until he left six months ago, has helped to fuel this sentiment with certain statements made to the press.

"[Gang activity is] never going to disappear," Hanson said. "It takes constant vigilance to fight them. It takes constant attention. It takes a strategy involving the entire police service to ensure you're doing the best you possibly can do to manage the crime and the criminals. Without a permanent chief,  people are uncertain what the direction is going to be and that's why it's critical to have a new chief selected as soon as possible."

While the Sun calls for a more strict and strategic police response to gang violence, research and evidence suggest that gangs are more effectively addressed by steering would-be gang members away from criminality in the first place.

A focus on prevention rather than punishment is both cheaper and more effective, and makes Calgary a safer and happier place for everyone. The day we start seeing editorials calling for a stronger community with less need for police will be the day we start to see the results this editorial calls for.