Prince Albert Police Chief Jon Bergen spoke to media Friday about recent incidents of violent crime in the city and police response. Prince Albert has noted five homicides in 2019 and two recent shootings.
Each of these homicides has been its own tragedy, Chief Bergen said, but the number is not typical. The last time Prince Albert recorded five homicides was in 2003. In 2018, Prince Albert recorded two homicides.
“The death or serious injury of a loved one caused by violence can be a sad and scary time and I would like to offer our sentiments to the families of all those involved,” said Chief Bergen. “Any level of violence in our community is concerning and I want to tell the public that as a police service, we are working hard to combat crime and arrest those responsible.”
A review of recent statistics shows that Prince Albert Police officers have responded to 27 incidents in 2019 where guns were used. In eight of those incidents, guns were actually fired. Charges have been laid against 18 people in connection with these violent incidents, and their cases are currently making their way through the courts.
Police have also responded to 114 incidents in 2019 involving knives, and have charged 44 people with various counts under the Criminal Code. Officers have also interviewed or arrested nearly 40 people in relation to property crime in the city since a new Break and Enter task force was announced.
In most cases, incidents of violence are not random, and the victim and suspects are known to each other. Some of these incidents are linked to gang activity, and the police service continues to target illegal activity and violence related to street gangs. A recent gang suppression initiative resulted in the arrest of 35 individuals with ties to street gangs.
“Our goal as a police service is to get ahead of crime, through proactive policing, rather than just responding to violence,” Chief Bergen added. “We are already actively participating in discussions with various levels of government and community groups to find solutions to the various factors that can lead to criminal activity.”
The Prince Albert Police Service is committed proactively addressing crime, and have also announced a new, high-visibility Community Policing Unit to engage with members of the community and address illegal activity. The Prince Albert Police Service encourages residents to continue reporting suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods by calling 306-953-4222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.