A Laval police plan is responding to the city's rising number of violent crimes involving young people
On July 30, a 17-year-old, teenager died after being shot a little after midnight in Laval, north of Montreal.
The shooting death was one of 19 armed aggressions that include two murder and eight attempted murder charges on the island in 2020, a sharp rise from the 13 and 14 reported in 2019 and 2019 respectively.
As a result, a Laval Police department (SPL) action plan is underway to curb the rising number of violent events involving teenagers in recent months.
"When we realized there was a emergence of higher criminal acts that were more violent than what we were used to, we started an action plan involving police officers on the street," said SPL assistant director Manon Ouellet. "They were all involved in the same goal which was to make sure that we were present on the street and try to give back a sense of security to those sectors where we had a problem."
Ouellet said officers met with about 1,500 people including youth, parents, neighbours, community organizations and businesses in the area.
"We were really present in the streets," said Ouellet. "We wanted the violence to stop."
Police say that during the COVID-19 pandemic, from March to September, "several unusually high violent events were recorded."
[Le SPL fait appel aux parents ��] Au cours des derniers mois, des événements de violence sont survenus à Laval...Posted by Service de police de Laval on Thursday, 1 October 2020
According to an SPL news release, the plan has led to 60 people being arrested on various charges, including breach of conditions and possession of narcotics, as well as violent crimes.
About 60 minors and young adults (aged between 16 and 20) have been identified in connection with the various crimes, and 205 reports were issued, 45 curfews were checked, and 15 firearms were seized.
"There was a lot of work that was done on the street to give back the sense of security to our population," said Ouellet.
The police force is inviting parents worried about their children's behaviour or company they keep to contact the police confidentially.
"We want those kids to get back to the right path, and we want the parents to be able to get the support that they need to make sure that those kids are back on track," said Ouellet.
Ouellet said there is no "gang problem" in Laval, as the kids aren't organized, but that months of lockdown has led to younger people gravitating towards people they may not have under normal circumstances.
"They're not organized," she said. "What we can see is that there are a few of those young people that are more criminalized and there were other people that gravitated around those few that got involved for some reason... There wasn't much to do this summer. Everybody had to be confined and stores and schools were closed. We feel that part of it made the youth to hang around people that they wouldn't be around because of that. I wouldn't say that's the only thing because it's not a science here, but that's part of it."
The SPL said more officers will be on the streets particularly in the Chomedey and Pont-Viau areas, where they say a majority of the alleged crimes have been reported.