Homicide Rates in Thunder Bay Relate to Crime
THUNDER BAY – Homicides in Thunder Bay have ranged from peaks of seven in 1992 and 2012 to years without any homicides in 2004 and 2008. In 2014 there have been four homicides so far.
In recent years, Thunder Bay has had the dubious distinction of being the “Murder Capital of Canada”.
Overall in Thunder Bay was has been happening are homicides where the victim and the attacker are known to each other. Often drugs and / or alcohol have been involved and cited at contributing factors.
What has been missing in the battle to make Thunder Bay a safer community is a solid strategy to combat the root causes of crime. A great deal of effort, and money has been invested in the Thunder Bay Police Service adding vital components to their arsenal of tools and personnel to respond to and to investigate crime. Thunder Bay Police have a very high rate of case closure.
Once a serious crime is committed, police are very likely to solve it. The Crime Prevention Council and many groups across the city are working to make better neighbourhoods in our city. Many of those efforts are generating really positive results.
Hard Work Makes A Difference
Evergreen, a United Neighbourhood, the Community Action Group in Windsor/Blucher/Picton are good examples. Engaging with the neighbourhood, and letting the local neighbourhood lead the way brings people together in a better sense of community.
Police Chief JP Lesveque has shifted policing efforts to neighbourhood policing and that too is a positive step. The results however will likely take a few years before they are seen.
In addition, daytime patrols in the downtown neighbourhoods are connecting frontline police with the business owners and regulars on the streets. All of these efforts are positive.
Recent attacks and a homicide stemming from an assault in the Fort William Business District have happened well outside of normal business hours. Incidents happening well after midnight point perhaps to issues with addiction or alcohol. On any given night, Thunder Bay Police are dealing with issues of intoxication.
Putting police officers on the front-lines as social workers is increasingly the normal process, but is it the most effective role for police? Perhaps having more frontline resources would help in more effective manners?
Often it appears that QoL calls and Assaults seem to follow closely together with each other on the crime map.
The reality is that issues that stem from alcohol often seem to generate many of the problems. A solid strategy and even better working relationship between the OPP, Thunder Bay Police and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission are needed.
There also appears to be a need for increased training for licenced establishment staff in both serving regulations, and in how to keep alcohol from leaving licenced establishments. A great deal of the responsibility is with regard to how people in our community view alcohol. It seems far too many view weekends and holidays with an eye to getting intoxicated.
Social Safety Net
Thunder Bay District Social Services could also likely step up and help. Poverty appears often as one of the issues that leads to despair and addictions. Social workers are often now more engaged in paperwork than working to council their clients. Perhaps working to do skill and needs evaluations and then invest the time needed to make a difference with their clients would help greatly. Part of the problem, specifically with mental health issues is that the responsibility is provincial. Right now much of the real work is falling to the municipal level, and impacting police and local service agencies.
The province has generated far greater reporting, and that time required to fill in forms and paperwork – in many cases one wonders exactly who really reads all the paperwork generated – is taking time away from the real work needed on the frontlines.
Thunder Bay has issues with housing. First there are people coming to the community and having a lot of difficulty finding a home. That is an issue that should be addressed. Shelter House on George Street in Thunder Bay South is often filled to capacity.
Solving the issues facing the community are underway. When there is an incident, that brings it all to the surface once again. However the real issues are in many cases being studied and worked on, solving the problems is going to take real energy, innovative thinking and reaching well into the well of innovation.