Police use of force reports double in Sault Ste. Marie

Violent crime in Sault Ste. Marie is trending in a troubling direction according to the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service. Incidents involving the use of force have doubled in the first six months of the year compared to where they were in 2020, police said.

From January to June, 118 reports were filed compared to just 54 over the same span last year.

"Recently, we've seen a number of arsons, aggravated assaults, a number of homicides this year," said Police Chief Hugh Stevenson. "Our officers responding are well trained. They're trained twice a year in terms of what's presented to them and what level of use of force that they respond with."

Stevenson said drug trafficking has become a major factor behind the rise in violence in Sault Ste. Marie.

Sault police have also noted an increase in robberies in the first half of 2021.

"We know that the level of violence in the drug trade has increased," Stevenson said. "Untreated, long-term drug addiction and the opioid distribution will cause a greater amount of violence in this city."

An addictions treatment facility is slated to open next summer in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has also increased its nighttime patrols of the city's downtown core since August.