Sunday, January 4, 2009

Violent Crime takes a Dive

Here is an article from the Gazette about our wonderful major crimes division of the Montreal Police. The officers that work this division are dedicated into giving their 100% + to solving cases. Many may not want to agree with me, but my experience with the men and women of this unit has been incredible. I have the up most respect for them. Let's remember they are the first ones to appear at a crime scene. They are the ones who see first hand the horrible things that we do not even want to imagine and they too have to go home to their families .

I am pleased to see that the crime rate has declined in 2008. I wonder why that is happening. Are there less domestic homicides because more women are getting out of their situations? Are people taking more responsibility for their own safety? Is it because people like myself are speaking out more? Are associations, schools and people in general working more on prevention? Are women realizing that they don't have to accept abuse and are taking charge of their lives? Are there less youth getting involved in street gangs because there is more structured activities available in the community for them?

What ever the reasons, let's work together to make 2009 an even better year.

The article :

Killings Dropped in 2008. So did attempted murders. Montreal police say their drive to stop street gang crime is having an effect, but criminologists say it's also part of a trend seen across North America

By PAUL CHERRYJanuary 2, 2009

Commander Clement Rose, of the Montreal Police major crimes division in the division's east end headquarters Tuesday, December 16, 2008. Montreal has witnessed its lowest number of homicides in decades.
Photograph by: John Kenney
The list of names on the board is what always catches your eye.
Any visit to the Montreal police major crimes division's headquarters at Place Versailles always causes a person to glance at the white board on which investigators maintain a list of the homicide victims for the year.
Just as in the bestselling book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets - victims' names are written on the large white board in two different coloured markers, with unsolved cases standing out in a brighter colour for all to notice.
But today, there is something reassuring about the length of the list on the board.
With 29 homicides reported on the island of Montreal last year, the squad investigated the lowest number of cases since 1972, the year several police forces on the island were merged to create the Montreal Urban Community police (now known simply as the Montreal police). The previous record low was 35 in 2005. There were 42 homicides reported in 2006 and 41 in 2007.
While reflecting on the drop, Commander Clément Rose, head of the major crimes squad, said he is sometimes skeptical of numbers but 2008 also stands out because of the noticeable drop in other violent crimes reported in Montreal.
"When you see the number of homicides drop along with the number of attempted murders, that is very significant. It means a real drop in violent crime in Montreal," Rose said.
As of mid-December, there had been 59 attempted murders reported in Montreal, compared with 99 in 2007 and 136 in 2006.
Rose attributes relative peace among the city's organized crime groups over the past six years as one factor in the reduction in violent crime.
"There are groups in the criminal milieu, the biker gangs or the Mafia who control certain parts (of the city) where they sell drugs, but there is no war. There are conflicts. Sometimes there are incidents between groups, but there is no war over territory where they are following each other and are plotting to kill each other," he said.
Rose also credits his police force's policy of making street gangs its No. 1 priority, through prevention programs and enforcement units like Project Eclipse, for contributing to the lower number of homicides. Over the past few years, he said, the Montreal police have developed important ties to neighbourhoods where street gangs are a problem and have developed more sources within the milieu than they've ever had before.
There were seven street gang-related homicides in 2008 compared with14 in 2007. There were 39 attempted murders related to street gang activity in 2008 compared with 54 in 2007. Rose said the street-gang killings in 2008 stemmed from conflicts between individual gang members rather than a rivalry between groups.
When asked if one homicide in particular stood out in 2008, Rose answered without hesitation.
A young woman was killed in her home on 5th Ave. in Rosemont and her killer tried to cover up the crime by setting her apartment on fire before leaving. No one has emerged as a suspect, which bothers Rose because he knows an unsolved homicide like that is disturbing, especially to people who live in the same neighbourhood as the victim.
"They are all tragic, but that is a particular case that stands out," Rose said. "We've made a lot of effort to solve it."
Charges have been filed in 13 of the 29 homicides investigated in 2008 and, when interviewed, Rose was confident charges would soon be filed in at least two others.
In addition to the year's caseload, the major crimes squad solved eight homicides that happened in 2007 or earlier.
When those numbers are merged with the 2008 cases, it gives the squad a high solution rate.
A significant drop in armed robberies - 68 in 2008 compared with 93 in 2007 - gave investigators time to close older cases, a trend Rose said he hopes will continue.
University of Toronto criminologist Rosemary Gartner said such drops in violent crime are part of a trend that began several years ago.
"In Canada, as far as very serious violent crime goes, that has been pretty much the trend across most major cities and the nation as a whole," Gartner said of the numbers witnessed in Montreal this year.
"Despite the tendency to believe things are getting worse - they're not."
Gartner also said the widely held theory that North America's ageing population is contributing to reduced violent crime rates explains only part of the drop
"I think the best estimates on that are that the changes in the age distribution of the population can attribute for five per cent of the decline. But it is certainly not an overall explanation," Gartner said.
She added that much analysis has been done on the trend in the United States and most of it points to things like increased imprisonment rates and zero-tolerance policing.
"But those don't apply to Canada because our imprisonment rates have not increased and we haven't gone toward the zero-
tolerance policing they have in the States," Gartner said. Because of this, some U.S. criminologists are now rethinking their theories.
"There is something else going on. What that something else is is presumably very hard to measure, like something to do with demography or a larger cultural change."

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