The Problem: Data from 2007, which is the most current available from Statistics Canada, puts Saskatoon’s rate of aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents at 341 per cent above the national average. That’s an increase over 2006, when the rate was 204 per cent above the national average, putting Saskatoon in second place behind Regina.
What’s being done to deal with it: Aggravated assaults are a particular area of focus for the Saskatoon police, says Alyson Edwards, the department’s public affairs manager . What makes dealing with this type of crime tough, says Edwards, is that it often “occurs between people who know each other,” and can involve substance abuse, making it “very difficult to prevent.” But she says a complete restructuring of the police force, implemented in June 2007, has “increased our presence and our visibility overall,” and significantly reduced the number of every category of violent crime. The new plan divided the city into three distinct districts, allowing police to identify problem areas and redeploy officers accordingly; a change that has resulted in 32 more cops on the streets. At the same time, police implemented a computerized analysis system to compile daily crime statistics. “Often times,” says Edwards, “[the police] stop trends before they begin.”