Regional Council in Whitby told of “alarming” jump in violent crime in 2021


Published December 29, 2021 at 4:48 pm

Durham Region saw an “alarming” increase in violent crime over 2021, according to Interim Police Chief Todd Rollauer who shared more detail of the rise to Regional Council on December 22, following his presentation to the police board.

Calls for police service are about the same as they were in 2020, but those categorized as ’emergency’ calls are on the rise. Dispatch received nearly 120,000 calls last year.

The increase in calls comes in part to a spike in violent crime that “quite frankly is concerning,” Rollauer said, citing a 45 per cent increase in aggravated assaults compared to 2020 and a 14 per cent jump from September.

“This is trending upward and is extremely troubling,” Rollauer said, before noting the DRPS clearance rate from such crimes is at 74 per cent.

Many of these calls, nearly 2,000, were for mental health interventions.

One good sign is response time to all calls shrank from last year with a median response time of seven minutes and twenty seconds, the lowest since 2017. DRPS has maintained an average response time lower than eight minutes for the last five years.

At the time of Rollauer’s presentation Durham Region had reported seven homicides, which would have been the lowest total in three years. However, two murders in Ajax over the holidays, just days after Rollauer’s report, returned the rate back to its 2020 high of nine.

  • On December 23, Mahishan Kugathasan, 19, died of stab wounds after he was brought to Ajax-Pickering Hospital. Anojh Tharsan, also 19 from Toronto, was arrested that evening.
  • On December 27, Franklin Owusu, 27, was shot in a home on Denny Street in Ajax. No charges have been laid and Durham Police have offered no suspect description.

“I have to say the rise in shootings and firearm offences is concerning as well,” Rollauer told council in his report. “It’s something we continue to battle every day.”

Owusu’s death brought the number of shootings in Durham in 2021 to 40, an average of one for every 9.1 days. Last year the region reported 43 shootings.

This shows a trend upwards over the last few years, as there were 16 shootings in 2016, 25 in 2017, 28 in 2018, and 30 in 2019.

Firearms charges were laid in 120 incidents over the last year, and 33 of those charged (28 per cent) were in breach of a release order conditions from previous charges.

These incidents led to police seizing 149 ‘crime guns,’ a 49 per cent increase from 2020. (A ‘crime gun’ is any gun unlawfully obtained or stored, used in a crime, or had its serial number removed or altered.)

Stabbings are also on the rise with 67 incidents over 2021 as of Rollauer’s address, with Kugathasan’s death bringing that to 68. This results in an average of a stabbing every 5.4 days, with nearly three-quarters of those incidents occurring in Oshawa.

For comparison, the Region saw 45 stabbings in 2020, 61 in 2019, 54 in 2018, 41 in 2017 and 53 in in 2016, again illustrating an upward trend.

The traffic unit reported a five-year record number of traffic stops in 2021 at 47,259 stops. Despite this effort, 21 people were killed in collisions, up two from last year, and 968 people were injured.

This increase extends to the DRPS Festive RIDE program which has charged 59 drivers as of week six, including a Blackstock man stopped twice in one day. By this time last year 47 people had been charged.

Overall property crime has remained stable over the last few years with 11,225 incidents in 2021. Despite this stability, Durham saw a spike in break and enters of 20 per cent, in part attributable to one man who broke in to 40 storage lockers over the summer.

Car theft is also on the rise by 23 per cent, with newer models Lexuses and Toyotas the most commonly targeted vehicles.

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