'I'd like to see them show a little more empathy,' ex-gang member talks Saskatoon policing, crime

Ex-gang member, Shane Taysup, spoke at a community consultation on crime and policing in Saskatoon.

Ex-gang member turned Str8Up member shares experiences

Former gang member Shane Taysup weighs in on policing in Saskatoon. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Shane Taysup describes his years spent as a gang member in Saskatoon as "traumatic".

Now, the 26-year-old father of three is proud to call himself a member of Str8Up, a local program that helps gang members leave the lifestyle. Taysup said the change has allowed him to gain insight into crime on the streets of the city.

"One thing I have gained is a lot of empathy for the community," he said. "I come from that negative lifestyle, and I know what it is like. It is not worth anything."

Taysup said that he came to the public consultation on Tuesday night to share his reality with a group of people who may not understand it.

"I can tell you right now, about 80 per cent of the people in there don't have a clue what it is like to live in the hood," Taysup said of the forum.

Taysup explained that he lives in Pleasant Hill with his young family and despite living a life free of crime, danger is never far from his home.

"The area that I live in, I constantly hear violence, you know gunshots, people screaming," he said. "Just yesterday, I finished up my program and I saw this group of kids, you know, beating on this other kid. Hitting this little kid. That's the stuff we see. Five year olds, hitting each other. Holding each other down and hitting each other."

Taysup said that although crime rates have dropped 47 per cent over the past decade, the streets are still dangerous. He said a change in policing protocols is needed to infiltrate pockets of dysfunction he sees.

"I've had a lot of negative encounters with the police," he said. "I'd like to see them show a little more empathy and understanding for the people of the public."

Taysup said he thinks gentrification of Saskatoon's west side, coupled with more community outreach will help combat deep social issues which perpetuate inner city crime.

No faith in the system

Taysup said he leads by example in his community and tries to help young people understand the role of police in the community.

"If these young guys who are uncomfortable around police officers, see us interacting with the community in a positive manner, it will plant a seed," he said.

However, Taysup admitted that if he hears a disturbance at night or witnesses violence, he is not likely to call police for help.

"I don't have much faith in the system."


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