Nfld. & Labrador

Sheilagh O'Leary says crime-prevention report too focused on George St.

A former city councillor says the City of St. John’s new crime prevention report does not go far enough.
Former city councillor Sheilagh O'Leary says that the city shouldn't focus on George Street when it comes to crime prevention. (CBC)

A former city councillor says the City of St. John's new crime prevention report does not go far enough and centers too much on George Street.

Mayor Dennis O'Keefe started an advisory committee on crime prevention after several high profile crimes two years ago, including drive-by shootings and a vicious murder on Tessier Place.

The committee released its 20-page report last week. Its several recommendations include engaging youth, involving neighbourhoods, and several specific suggestions for enhancing safety on George Street.

The report makes no mention of the crimes that spurred the committee's formation.

Former city councillor Sheilagh O'Leary said that while George Street is certainly an issue, it is not the only area that has problems.

"Now we see a report coming forward that really centres on George Street alone, in many ways," she said.

"We know that we need to improve the situation on George Street. But that is almost a separate issue in lots of ways. It's one very specific district. It does not address the issue of crime prevention throughout the city of St. John's."

Mayor Dennis O'Keefe called for a committee on crime-prevention after a series of high profile crimes two years ago. (CBC)

When it comes to that larger issue of crime prevention, O'Leary said the city should work alongside existing non-profit groups that are already working to make the city safer.

"The idea of bringing that expertise together to problem-solve the increase in crime in the neighbourhoods that we are seeing, I still don't see any fruits of that labour yet."

O'Keefe said the report deals with several issues, and wasn't intended to focus on specific crimes or locations.

"It doesn't really deal with any specific issue. It deals with all kinds of issues pertaining to safety in the city," he said.

"George Street is one part of the report, but it's not fair to say that it's the central part or the only part. Again the focus is: how do we make our city safer in all our neighbourhoods?"

Two RNC deputy chiefs were involved in making the report. In an email, a spokesperson said the RNC  is "committed to supporting and moving forward with any recommendation that contributes to a safe and healthy community."

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