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October 18, 2017
August 1, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Keep crime in context

Written by Jeff Samsonow

You’re probably seeing a lot of stories in your news and social media feeds about the Edmonton Police chief’s sit down with local media. There are a lot of stories out, and we can understand if you’re worried that crime rates are skyrocketing (they aren’t, crime is down year-over-year).

EPS Chief Rod Knecht, image: Edmonton Police

As with all crime stories in local news, the day-to-day stuff doesn’t tell us the real story of what’s happening. We talked a bit about this last week when Statistics Canada released its look at 2016 crimes.

The other thing to keep in mind, especially if any of the stories are being shared in your Facebook feed by particularly crime-paranoid friends or family, is that these stories are all one-way info from the chief without a lot of challenge or involving anything too controversial for the EPS (like Edmonton’s issue with carding, for example). So, while they may include interesting information on what’s happening in Edmonton in relation to certain types of crimes, it’s not the whole picture and we don’t really know if anything is trending upward in a worrying way from one news conference.

Alright… following a bit on the Statistics Canada report which looked at a variety of issues around sexual assaults, the number of reported cases in Edmonton is up so far this year. It’s such an underreported crime it’s hard to know if this is a trend showing more of the crimes happening, or if more people are reaching out to police. You have to hope it’s the latter, but longer term trends will prove one or the other. Statistics Canada also found more sexual offences against children were being investigated by police across Canada, which is something a local agency dealing with kids and teens who have been assaulted sees in their own growing caseload.

One other story the chief was asked about links to CBC Edmonton’s continuing investigation into victims being locked up before trials. Sometimes they’re being held in the same areas as their attackers.

As CBC Edmonton uncovers more cases of this disturbing process, it will put Edmonton’s courts under more scrutiny, including some of the judges and lawyers involved. The provincial government struck a committee to look into the treatment of victims, particularly those from vulnerable communities, after an earlier investigation by reporter Janice Johnston into a case that made national headlines.


Around the city

The City is looking into what it can do to make the work of women at body rub parlous safer, without driving the sex trade back to the streets, onto the Internet or off the radar. It’s something that’s splitting people involved in the sex work industry, so it’s not going to be an easy way forward.

The Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) group is showing off its new community garden, across from its main site on Whyte Avenue over in Bonnie Doon. Not only is it a place for teens using YESS services to get outside and garden, it’s open to everyone in a spirit of community.

The number of Albertans being prescribed medical marijuana has nearly doubled over the last year, and the number of doctors prescribing also jumped. As medical marijuana use increases, and legalized marijuana is pending, some U of A students are launching a crowdfunding campaign for an unbreakable bong. And a new facility is working to get medical marijuana to more military veterans.

30 years after the Black Friday tornado hit Edmonton we have new tools, new technologies and new ways of tracking storms and getting out emergency warnings, but it likely won’t ever be a perfect system.


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