Whitby murder brings homicide investigations past 2021 total as violence hits a new record


Published July 14, 2022 at 7:09 pm

Durham Region is experiencing a five-year high in emergencies according to a recent report to Regional Council as reports of violence rise murder investigations peak.

Reported violent crime is expected to reach an all-time high across the Region in 2022, Durham Regional Police Deputy Police Chief Joseph Mariano reported in a quarterly update to Regional Council.

Over the last five years violence calls rose 31 per cent from 1,525 in 2017 to 2,007 in 2022. This also represents a 21 per cent increase over the 1,656 calls in 2021. The previous peak was 1,955 calls in 2019.

This increase in violence calls are mostly in regard to lower-tier crimes such as simple assault, threatening and harassment. Carjackings are also on the rise, not just in Durham but across the GTA.

Four unsuccessful carjacking have been reported in the Region so far. This increase has led to a GTA-wide partnership of police services spearheaded by York Regional Police.

Of these calls Durham police report a 60 per cent clearance rate which Mariano calls, “very competitive” compared to similar police services

The report includes data up to May 2022, which Mariano described as an “extremely challenging month with respect to shootings and other violent crime.

At the time of Mariano’s report nine people had been murdered. Just five months into the year, this is more than half of the 12 killed in nine incidents in 2021, a five-year peak.

Durham continued to near last year’s peak just prior to Mariano’s report. Between putting the presentation together and actually presenting it, five people were shot in a north Oshawa bar claiming two lives. This was the second shooting at the Durham College area bar in as many years after a young man was injured last November.

The record of investigations was broken just yesterday with the tenth murder in the Region in Whitby. As of the latest attack there have now been more homicide investigations so far in 2022 than the entirety of 2021, though two fewer people have been killed.

“This quite frankly is very concerning and we are lucky that many instances in June that number is not a lot higher,” Mariano said.

He described an incident in which DRPS disrupted a planned car rally in Pickering. The ralliers fled to Toronto and DRPS hand off jurisdiction to TPS. However their activity resulted in a murder in the city later that night.

Previously, 10 people were killed in seven 2020 incidents and seven people were slain in 2019. The previous peak came in 2018, which saw 11 victims across nine attacks.

Mariano also reported that total service calls are up to the five-year high due in part to this increase in violence. Of these, calls deemed urgent by DRPS are also at a five-year peak with 1,600 more calls than this time in 2021.

Emergency calls are also up over last year. However, such calls peaked back in 2019.

While Oshawa was still the municipality with the largest proportion of calls, the sheer number fell by about 1 per cent. Clarington, Scugog, Whitby, and Uxbridge meanwhile each saw a 5 per cent jump in service calls.

Police response time to this calls is also on the rise. Mariano attributed this increase, in part, to a jump in domestic disturbance calls and a policy change to treat such calls as urgent and requiring immediate response.

Additionally an increase in calls regarding violence and mental health crises are “impacting officer availability,” Mariano said. He also said DRPS is expecting an even higher number of calls in the near future as Durham’s population grows.

The Region is expected to nearly double in population size over the next 20 years. Mariano made particular note of tower developments which can reach 45 stories as potential drivers of longer response times.

“We anticipate not only more calls for service but challenges with vertical response times and logistical operations during calls,” he told Regional council.

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