Saskatoon

Public safety fears and response times drive Saskatoon police redeployment

Chief Clive Weighill says he's willing to move officers from the drug and gang units back into patrol to improve response times and so the public can see uniformed officers on the street and feel safer.

'Perception is reality': Chief Clive Weighill

More boots on the street. (CBC)

Police Chief Clive Weighill says he's willing to move officers from the drug and gang units back into patrol to make the public feel safer in downtown Saskatoon.

This at a time when drug and gang-related violence is having a very real impact on the city. Police have responded to 12 shootings so far this year, plus a host of stabbings and property thefts.

Weighill says this violence is directly linked to the drug trade.

And he concedes this redeployment is going to hurt the units investigating those areas.

"We're going to be pulling a few members out of the drug unit, a few members out of the gang unit, maybe out of the schools, out of the traffic division," he said.

"It's going to hurt our investigative capabilities."

He says the public has expressed concerns about downtown safety, and the call response time to outlying areas is not as good as it could be. The redeployment should help address these areas, he said.

"We want people to feel safe on the streets, we want that visibility back on the streets," he said.

Weighill says there is a perception that downtown is not safe. Weighill says the city has one of the safest downtown in the country.

So – why draw officers out of units investigating what he says are the real causes of crime and violence, drugs and gangs, to counter a perception?

"The officers on the street are going to be dealing with real crime, too," he said.

"Perception is reality, unfortunately."

Weighill says the redeployment could start as soon as June 1.

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