Is Gang Violence on the Rise in Calgary?

It has been nearly a decade since the Calgary streets have been gripped by the so-called "gang wars" of the late 1990s and the first decade of the current century. Since then, Calgary Police have been focusing on long-term investigations that have put many of the top members of these gangs behind bars.

Gang-related violence and crimes have declined dramatically during this time and crime within the city has been greatly reduced.

Recently, however, allegations of gang-related crimes have been on the rise once more. Even as the Calgary Police Service acknowledges that today's gangs in Calgary are smaller groups of loosely affiliated individuals that are largely temporary in nature, they are gearing up to detect and investigate more gang-related crimes.

"All of the investigators in the Guns and Gangs Unit are detectives. They've demonstrated competency in investigative ability to get promoted to detective and then typically they'll compete to get into the unit, so we do have the luxury of picking from a pool of very motivated and very capable people, says Staff Sergeant Quinn Jacques.

While increased investigation no doubt played a role in dismantling the large gangs of yesteryear, community outreach and youth intervention programs also played a significant part in reducing the number of people involved in gangs and steering at-risk youth towards other futures.

Increased attention on such programs in conjunction with, or perhaps instead of, gearing up for more policing might be a better use of Calgary's resources and lead to better outcomes for all Calgary's communities.