Battlefords RCMP have confirmed the ongoing recent violence in North Battleford is due to factions of regional gangs targeting each other for various reasons, and are promising to bring in whatever resources are needed to put an end to the recent gun violence.
In an exclusive interview with battlefordsNOW, Insp. John Sutherland and Staff Sgt. Darcy Woolfitt addressed the issue after a very violent week in the city which included a stabbing, a high speed pursuit, several homes being shot at, and a spate of shooting incidents around the city on Friday morning .
“Needless to say, we are very, very concerned about this level of violence, “said Woolfitt. “We (RCMP) don’t want to see anyone to get hurt and we are doing as much as we can and more to put the resources we have at our disposal to use and locate the people responsible.”
Both Sutherland and Woolfitt declined to say there was a ‘turf war’ happening in the region, however they did indicate that certain groups of gangs are very active at this point in time.
“It has its ebbs and flows, “Woolfitt added. “We have had a lot of property crime and theft recently and unfortunately some of what is stolen is firearms. If you put those in the wrong hands then we have problems."
He added the Battlefords area is experiencing another shift in increased gang activity in recent weeks.
“We have seen this before where we had a period of gun violence in the community and unfortunately it ended in some tragic events and it dies down for a while,” Woolfitt added. “Then we are able to get on top of it and make some significant arrests of the main players in the groups, and some get lengthy jail terms and it displaces everyone else for a while.”
Sutherland confirmed that three young people have been arrested recently and are before the courts on weapons and property damage offences, and the investigations are ongoing.
Both Sutherland and Woolfitt realize that there is a lot of anxiety within the community in recent weeks as the scale of violence has intensified and are sympathetic to the fear in the community.
“The public can rest assured that I have the resources to draw on,” Sutherland added. “And those conversations have already begun.”
“One of the advantages of the city (North Battleford) being in a contractual obligation with the RCMP is that we are part of a big machine, and when we want to do specific things and we need to reach out for help, then it is there from across the province," said Sutherland.
Woolfitt and Sutherland both agree that the public can help alleviate some of the crime in the Battlefords simply by securing your property and firearms.
“We have made several public pleas for people to lock their cars at night and not leave valuables in it for thieves to get at’” said Woolfitt. “The same goes for your home and sheds simply lock your doors.”
Woolfitt also had advice to firearms owners in the area.
“Treat your firearm like it was a brick of gold,” he added. “You wouldn’t leave a brick of gold out in your car unattended or in your garage would you?”
He noted that keeping your firearms in a secure gun case is fine, but it should also be locked.
“We have seen many cases where the owner had the gun in the case, but since it wasn’t locked they lost their rifles and ammunition,” he added.
Over the next week, battlefordsNOW will be looking in depth at the gangs in the community, the resons they thrive, and what can be done to educate the public about them.
If you have details on criminal activity in the Battlefords you are asked call the Battlefords RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
On Twitter: @RJWtheReporter
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