Gun violence is on the rise in London. Acting police chief Trish McIntyre weighs in
The acting police chief says frontline officers are now finding loaded guns during random traffic stops
Gun violence is on the rise in London with nine shootings in the first three months of 2023. London's acting police chief Trish McIntyre is deeply concerned and calls it alarming.
Hear the full interview with London Morning host Rebecca Zandbergen:
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
RZ: Nine shootings in three months. Is that something we've seen before in this city?
TM: Stats like this are alarming. We have seen an increase year-over -year, but to have nine in the first three months of the year is just alarming.
RZ: Why do you think this is happening?
TM: So many issues are at play here. We saw enormous change in the landscape with the global pandemic. We see a drastic increase in mental health concerns, the proliferation of drugs, guns, gangs. That's definitely translating into violence. There is a call to action drafted that's specific to bail reform. That's Bill C-75.
RZ: I'm curious how how you believe these guns are getting into our city?
TM: We know most likely they're coming to us from the states through tracing. They're not long guns on, you know. That's not the guns [we're seeing] being used in crime.
RZ: And how often are you confiscating guns?
TM: This is what's so crazy for us. Now more than ever, we have our frontline patrol officers seizing handguns when they pull over a car. They find a loaded handgun under the seat. Like that was unprecedented. We would never see that before. But definitely, the times have changed and that is definitely more prevalent. That's a risk to frontline officers so it's a huge concern.
RZ: Is it just a rise in gun violence or are we seeing other concerning things happening in our city as well?
TM: Honestly, the global pandemic sent a shock wave across the country, right. And we see every jurisdiction struggling with issues. We see enormous increase in those suffering from mental health issues. That has all been you know growing year over year over year.
I grew up in London. I have worked my entire career in London. The community does not feel safe. The community is calling on the police to do things differently.- Trish McIntyre, Acting Police Chief
RZ: In a certain sector of our society, people say why not fund these mental health services instead of police officers. How would you respond to that?
TM: I think that is loud and clear. We hear the defund arguments all the time. I can tell you that London, according to Statscan, saw the largest percentage increase in crime severity index. Not every thing can be mental health -related. Funding social agencies is an assistance to the police, and I do think we need to find a better vehicle to work together to support the most vulnerable in our community.
RZ: I know the London Police Services Board will appoint a new chief soon. You're the current acting chief. With all of what you're up against, why do you want to stay in this role?
TM: Oh my gosh, yes. You know, I grew up in London. I have worked my entire career in London. The community does not feel safe. The community is calling on the police to do things differently. I think our people work so hard here and are enormously compassionate. I feel like I owe it to our team of amazing members, and I think the community deserves better. Once we right size this organization, I think we can move the needle. We didn't get into this problem in a day. We're not gonna get out of this problem in a day.