‘Crime did not take a holiday’ during the pandemic says one veteran former officer
Murders in Toronto are up 15% compared to the same point in 2020, according to statistics compiled by Toronto Police.
As of Sept. 26, 62 people have been murdered in the city. That compares to 54 in the same period last year.
Those same police figures also show incidents involving shootings in Toronto so far this year are running 19% below what the city experienced to the same point in 2020.
There have been 306 shootings and firearms discharges as of Sept. 26. That compares to 377 at the same point in 2020.
The police service’s data shows July was the most dangerous month for both shootings and murders.
Monday, the FBI revealed the number of murders in the U.S. surged 30% in the past year.
Veteran police officer Sean Sparling — a retired deputy police chief in Sault Ste. Marie — noted the stark differences between the two countries.
“Although Toronto does have its share of gun violence, Canada is not as much of a ‘gun nation’ as the U.S.,” said Sparling, president of Investigative Solutions Network, a private investigations firm.
At the end of July, a report by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety provided a snapshot of police-reported crime in 2020.
“The volume of police-reported crime in the early months of the pandemic was far lower compared to the previous year,” the agency reported.
But the study noted that across the country, there were 743 homicides, 56 more than in 2019.
“It will be interesting to see what our homicide rates are. My feeling is that it has not gone up the same as the States,” said Sparling.
But the retired deputy chief noted other problems officers are encountering more often since the pandemic began.
“Although the murder rate has stayed relatively stable for the last quite a few years, what is increasing disproportionately is calls for service relating to mental health and addictions,” he added.
Sparling said a surge in mental health calls, addiction calls, and changes to bail that make it easier for courts to “catch and release” — partially due to pandemic restrictions — is “a perfect storm” officers have to deal with daily.
“Crime didn’t take a holiday,” he said.