Calgary police to reorganize after guns and gangs spur 'reckless acts of violence'

Escalating gang and gun violence in Calgary has the city's police chief reorganizing the service. Police are on track to seize 80 per cent more weapons this year after shootings increased dramatically in the city.

'We can't afford to get it wrong,' says Calgary's police chief of gang situation

Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin speaks to the media about gang-related gun violence (CBC)

Calgary's police chief is reorganizing the service because of reckless gun violence committed by "evil" criminals. 

The guns and gangs unit has identified 50 to 100 people who are considered a high-risk to society.

Chief Roger Chaffin says organized crime is a high priority.

"We can't afford to get it wrong," said Chaffin at a press conference addressing the recent escalation in gang-related gun violence.

"Rest assured, the service's intent in this is to identify the people involved and arrest them," said Chaffin. "These people need to be behind bars."

Shootings spike in Calgary

Police on the scene of a New Year's Eve shooting in Calgary earlier this year. Gun violence has spiked in 2015, raising concerns of police and residents. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

The violence is the focus of five major police operations and about 85 smaller ones, according to the chief.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31 there were 85 shootings in the city. In the same time period in 2014, there were 51.

One of the few defining characteristics of what is described as a "fluid" group is their use of firearms.

This year, police expect to seize 80 per cent more weapons than last year.

"It's just a matter of time before some innocent person gets hit," said Staff Sgt. Quinn Jacques with the guns and gangs unit.

'These are dangerous times'

Calgary police search the parking lot in front of a northeast Co-op store after a shooting in January. (CBC)

The organized crime situation in Calgary right now is not acceptable, said Chaffin, who characterized the situation as "wanton and reckless acts of violence."

Just two-and-a-half weeks into his tenure, Chaffin says he's looking at a service-wide reorganization to ensure the violent situation is properly resourced.

"This is our reality," said Chaffin. "We need to adapt and I intend to adapt very quickly."

The guns and gangs unit includes 18 detectives, six constables and a sergeant but it's the hundreds of frontline officers who face dangerous situations daily.

"These are dangerous times for them as well," said Chaffin.


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