Edmonton police commission breaks down 2017 homicide, clearance rates

Edmonton police say a "lull" in homicides this fall could help them catch up on unsolved cases.

39 homicides in Edmonton so far this year, compared to 33 at the same time last year

Insp. Carlos Cardoso speaks at an Edmonton police commission meeting at city hall on Thursday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Edmonton police say a "lull" in homicides this fall could help them catch up on unsolved cases.

At a police commission meeting on Thursday, Edmonton Police Service Insp. Carlos Cardoso said 22 out of 39 homicides so far this year have been cleared by police. That means a suspect has been identified and charges have been laid, or the case has been resolved.

This translates to a 60-per-cent clearance rate so far for this year.

Last year at this time there were 33 homicides in Edmonton, and police had a 62-per-cent clearance rate. In 2014, the clearance rate was 94 per cent.

Although the clearance rate is lower this year, Cardoso said it will increase as the year goes on.

"In 2018, our clearance rates for 2017 might increase, and that's what happens with the previous years," he said. "In 2014 or 2015, clearance rates are higher. But you've got to keep in mind every time we clear it, we reflect the [statistic] back to the year."

There have been fewer homicides to date in October compared to the year so far, Cardoso added.

"We have a lull right now," he said. "It's allowing us to catch up on our files."

This slowdown in the fall is unusual for Edmonton, according to police.

"It seems in October [or] November we seem to have an increase," police Chief Rod Knecht said. "Now hopefully this year will be the anomaly."

Forty-three per cent of the homicides so far this year resulted from shootings, while 35 per cent were stabbings. Shootings can make for tougher cases for police to solve, Cardoso said.

"You're talking about finding the weapon, you have to find the individual, find DNA related to the file and investigation," he said.

"It just becomes a lot more complex. It's an easier weapon to get rid of."

Chernyk returns to work

Const. Mike Chernyk is back at work after he was hit by a speeding car and then stabbed two weeks ago. He was working crowd control after an Edmonton Eskimos game the evening of Sept. 30 when the attack occurred. 

"He asked to work the Eskimos game on Saturday night. He wanted to work, but no, he needs a little more time," Knecht said, calling Chernyk  a "solid farm boy" who has brought his morals, ethics and values to the Edmonton Police Service. 

"He's just a guy that wants to do the job and get back to work," he said. 

The attack on Chernyk occurred shortly before four pedestrians were hit with a truck in downtown Edmonton. One of the victims, Kim O'Hara, is still in hospital. Knecht said he visited her and her family on Monday.

"She's making progress. We're monitoring that progress," he said. "Since I met her Monday to today she's made progress. Very optimistic. I hope she makes a full recovery. She's got tremendous family support there, which I think is a key factor in her recovery."

Edmonton police will be reviewing their response to the attack.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, 30, was arrested the night of the attack and faces 11 charges, including five charges attempted murder.