BY KARI OLFERT, THINKSASKATOON
Saskatoon is a small community (and almost town) when compared to cities like Edmonton or Winnipeg, so when crime happens here it feels personal. We feel violated on a personal level, our fear and distrust step up and we look for someone to blame. There are a few factors to consider when decoding crime in Saskatoon.
Petty CrimeA large chunk of crime that happens in Saskatoon is petty crime.
Certain Areas Crime happens everywhere in Saskatoon BUT the majority is segregated to a few select areas. This doesn’t make it right or okay but does provide some structure. We are treating crime like it is a city-wide epidemic, which is not exactly the case.
Backlash The most recent violent occurrences happened after our big ‘drug bust’. Naturally once we have taken away the drugs, money and guns the people who owned those things are going to be angry and it will play out.
So who do we blame and what is being done to make us feel safe?
PolicePublic safety rests on our Police Service. The new station looks great, now make us feel safe with our tax money. Did we not expect a gang/drug backlash, did we fail to plan for it because we were so focused on the ‘win’ of a drug bust, did we uncover more than was expected? From what the media has led me to believe we are seeing a lot of shoulder shrugging from our team in blue.
GovernmentThe entire structure of a city is built on the laws and regulations laid forth by the Government. What is being done to prevent and deter crime throughout Saskatoon? What part does our Government play in containing or discouraging future crimes? Minimum wage? Programs for rehabilitation? Opportunities for success? I don’t need to remind the average taxpayer how much they are investing in their local government.
Gang Restructuring We have all watched at least ONE episode of Sons of Anarchy. We know how this works, take away the bad guys things, they get angry and blame someone for their losses. The formula isn’t complicated, you can even apply it to your life. You bring lunch to work, someone takes it and eats it, you feel a little suspicious and angry at work. Work being Saskatoon, lunch being drugs you were planning to sell and the coworker that took said lunch being an undercover police officer. Even drug dealers get to feel victimized and angry.
Where is the light at the end of the crime tunnel?
Saskatoon in GrowingThe good and the bad is that Saskatoon is growing. Growth means more demand which means more jobs, money and spending. It also means that more people are attracted to moving here and as anyone who has lived in a large city will tell you there is more opportunity when this happens but it also creates a shift in the infrastructure. Shifts mean change which can sometimes look like chaos.
Saskatoon is Largely EntrepreneurialA lot of us are entrepreneurs or know a guy that can help you with that project. By working together and supporting each other we can build and maintain a strong community, this is where our focus should be.
Saskatoon has Kick Ass ValuesAsk your ancestors why they moved here. They were lied to a little and given free land but ALSO they moved here because Saskatoon offered them hope and made them feel safe compared to where they were living at the time. Saskatoon people are nice (I hear that ALL the time), Saskatoon is a great place to have kids and raise a family (that’s why I moved back) and albeit specialized healthcare can be a pain, general healthcare here is awesome!
How does all of this decode the crime in Saskatoon? As we hear the latest story we need to remember: most crimes do not involve you personally and the majority of them occur in certain areas of the city. The factors that have the most authority are not within your power and therefore futile to stress over: police action and government policies. If we focus on our cities growth, entrepreneurs that are helping to create our future, and our kick ass values, we can continue to call Saskatoon a great place to live.