Murders, violent crime way up in Sudbury

Murders, violent crime way up in Sudbury

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The police want to set up their own homicide squad

Greater Sudbury Police are investigating an early morning double homicide at the Travelodge Hotel on Paris Street on December 20. Photo by John Lappa/Sudbury Star Summary of article

There has certainly been some celebration in Sudbury over the past year, including robust nickel prices, the opening of the Place des Arts and the resumption of in-person events, including the 50th edition of Northern Lights.

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At the same time, however, the city has experienced a number of troubling trends that are perhaps no more striking than the sharp rise in homicides.

By the end of November there had already been five murders and two cases of involuntary manslaughter.

Then, in a week just before Christmas, three more people were killed in two separate incidents – a double homicide at the Travelodge Hotel on Paris Street and a deadly altercation between two young men on Notre Dame Avenue. Not exactly “peace on earth, goodwill to the people” stuff.

Also in December, a Sudbury man was charged with manslaughter over the death of another local from an overdose in August.

The full string of homicides in 2022 represents a huge jump from the only homicide recorded in 2012 and each of the two years that followed. The years 2017 and 2018 were similarly peaceful, with one murder each.

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However, that number started to rise in 2019, and last year Sudbury had the fourth-highest per capita homicide rate in the country, according to a Statistics Canada report. Given the number of killings, which has more than doubled over the past year, that ranking is unlikely to improve.

We’re not going to top Winnipeg, which had 44 homicides last year, or Thunder Bay, which had 14, but the pattern is still troubling and very much on the radar of folks in Tom Davies Square.

“Any rise in violent crime is worrying,” said Paul Lefebvre, the city’s new mayor, in a statement provided to The Star.

Lefebvre said he is focused on ensuring the city “remains a safe and healthy place to live, work and play – for all of our citizens” and will “continue to work with our community partners and other local organizations to ensure that.” crime prevention is a top priority.”

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Community members are also concerned, although seniors’ attorney John Lindsay noted that most of the recent killings were targeted incidents, often involving traffickers, so residents need not necessarily fear for their own lives.

“From my contacts with seniors, through CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) and elsewhere, we’re not particularly concerned about gang-related homicides other than that someone might get caught in the crossfire,” he said. “But most of our seniors don’t move in the areas where these things happen.”

At the same time, however, the bleak headlines aren’t helping the city’s reputation as a warm and welcoming place, and many residents worry about “how this is affecting the community,” Lindsay said. “We have enough image problems as it is without needing to be known as Northern Ontario’s Winnipeg.”

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Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen pointed out on Thursday that property crime had fallen in 2021 while violent crime had risen.

“And make no mistake, the violent crimes are affecting the entire community and taking up a lot of investigative time,” he said during a presentation to the police department.

The city ranks third — just behind Windsor and London — in crime severity in Ontario based on 2021 statistics, “but when we look specifically at violent crime, we sit at the top,” Pedersen said .

Violent crime includes murder, but also includes other crimes involving violence, such as assault and rape, and those involving threats of violence, such as robbery and molestation.

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The city also topped provincial rankings for violent crime in 2020, and the situation has only worsened over the past year.

“We know that the violent crime rate has increased more this year than in any other year,” Pedersen said. “Our homicide rate has risen significantly again this year, and it’s the type of crime that drives up the violent crime severity index, as does sexual assault.”

Pedersen said GSPS investigated 12 murders in 2022, including the two cases of vehicular manslaughter.

“Guns, gangs, stolen vehicles and drugs continue to be the root cause of many homicides,” he said. “We are seeing real awareness of the impact of guns and organized crime here in Sudbury for the first time.”

While last year’s murders weren’t random, that brings only so much comfort.

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“With each of the murders this year, it was a situation where the perpetrator and the victim knew each other,” Pedersen said. “But there is no less impact — homicides leave tragedies in their wake and are complex to investigate.”

So far, the police have not had a dedicated homicide investigation team, but plan to change that this year.

“Even though we have one of the highest homicide rates in the province, we don’t have our own homicide unit,” the chief said. “Our detectives have to investigate homicides alongside other crimes, including property crimes, and when you’re investigating a homicide that’s really all you can do.”

He said it was important to “move forward with a dedicated team” that not only deals with homicides and suspicious deaths, but also with missing persons cases, which sometimes turn out to be foul play cases, as well as cold cases. “Possibly with new technology, new evidence and renewed attention, we can bring some of these historic cases to a close.”

As outlined in its proposed 2023 budget, the police service intends to allocate four people to the new homicide squad, as well as add two more officers to its drug-fighting unit and an additional 18 officers to its patrol deployments, although this would be phased in over three years.

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