Edmonton police cite a worrying spike in violent crime during July

Violence indicators by around a 25 per cent in comparison to both July 2019 and the three-year-average, mainly driven by a spike in serious assaults, while assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm was up 88 per cent from the three-year average.

88% increase over the three-year-average for aggravated assault in July

Supt. Brad Doucette said police resources have been strained due to an uptick in violent crimes this summer. (Craig Ryan/CBC)

Edmonton police are sounding the alarm in relation to a spike last month of violent crime, especially around an increase in serious assaults.

The Edmonton Police Service tracks crime across the city, with violence indicators including assault, robbery, sexual assault and homicide. Violence indicators for July 2020 were up by around a quarter in comparison to both July 2019 and the three-year-average, mainly driven by a spike in serious assaults.

Assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm was up 88 per cent from the three-year average.

"While it's difficult to speculate why this is occurring, the increase in these violent assaults is certainly concerning," Supt. Brad Doucette said Friday during a news conference.

Doucette said it is typical to see more of these calls during the summer months and that random spikes are sometimes seen by police, but there could be a number of factors playing into these trends. COVID-19 could be one contributor, he said, adding that domestic violence had risen during the pandemic.

Serious assaults require more officers to respond to and more resources to investigate, he said. Personnel were being reassigned from more stable areas to help with the influx.

"So far we're managing to keep our head above water but we're starting to get tasked to the max."

Five homicides since July 11

Doucette said while aggravated assaults and injuries had increased, the homicide rate has remained relatively stable. He said that has largely been due to timely application of medical attention during serious assaults.

Police say there have been 19 suspicious deaths in Edmonton, one more than this time last year.

Since July 11, Edmonton has had eight suspicious deaths, five which were confirmed as homicides. 

Thursday saw two new investigations opened by the homicide unit with the deaths of two men, one at about midday in the west end, another later in the afternoon in the city's southwest.

As well, on Thursday evening police arrested a 20-year-old man to face charges of aggravated assault, robbery, and possession of offensive weapon in a random stabbing of woman who was sitting in a parked vehicle, according to the news release.

Doucette urged Edmontonians to report crimes to police. He noted a worrying recent frequency of incidents where police are being alerted through a social media post rather than a call to 911.

"That's concerning," he said. "We can't get ahead on trends or patterns when people don't tell us what's happening."

Numbers show increase for June, July

In July 2020, police saw a 25-per-cent increase in violence indicators over the same month last year, and an increase of 27 per cent compared to the three-year average.

Compared to July 2019, last month saw a 56-per-cent increase of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm and a 43-per-cent increase of aggravated assault.

Stacked against a three-year average, assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm was up 88 per cent for July and 35 per cent in May and June. Aggravated assault was up 34 per cent for July,  48 per cent for June and 21 per cent for April.

Assaults overall were actually lower from March to April when compared to the three-year-average before a 5 per cent jump in June and 33 per cent increase in July.


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