Escalating Homicides Raise Alarms in Saskatchewan

In the span from 2019 to 2023, Saskatchewan has witnessed a staggering 50% surge in homicide victims, according to data from the RCMP Major Crimes unit. Shockingly, 44% of those charged with homicide were under various legal conditions, including bail, parole, or probation at the time of the crimes. Superintendent Joshua Graham, Officer in Charge of Major Crimes, expressed deep concern, particularly about instances where individuals committed homicides while on release conditions.

In 2023 alone, Major Crimes faced the daunting challenge of addressing five clusters of homicides within a 48-hour period, something Graham says – is alarming, but is alarming, but no longer an anomaly across the province.

Graham adds that although the detachments have received little in the way of additional supports over the last 15 years – they have been able to solve the vast majority of homicides in Saskatchewan.

“Our Major Crimes investigators continue to do an outstanding job, despite not receiving any additional investigative resources since 2008 – their dedication, resiliency, and undeniable expertise is what contributes to solving 84% of the homicides that have occurred since 2015.”

Saskatchewan RCMP officers conducted approximately 17,000 proactive conditions checks in 2023 to monitor prolific offenders released into communities. Disturbingly, they identified over 15,800 court-ordered conditions violations during the same period.

“when an individual commits a homicide while on bail or release conditions, it is extremely discouraging and frustrating for our investigators,” says superintendent Joshua Graham.

To combat these issues, the RCMP Saskatchewan Enforcement Response Team collaborates with various agencies through the Saskatchewan Serious Violent Offender Response program, monitoring and reducing potential threats posed by high-risk violent offenders.

Recent changes to the Criminal Code and bail provisions targeting prolific violent offenders (Bill C-48) are now in effect – These changes, according to Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Rhonda Blackmore, are a crucial step forward in ensuring the safety of communities.

“I am hopeful the amended bail provisions are a step in the right direction – because at the end of the day, those individuals who are not interested in rehabilitation or changing their lifestyle, will continue to do harm to others and should not be released back into our communities,” says Blackmore.

“I am incredibly proud of our front-line officers and specialized units who continue to monitor, suppress, and investigate these violent offenders – from ensuring individuals are complying with their release conditions, implementing initiatives to target prolific offenders, arresting those with outstanding warrants, to investigating homicides.”

Provincial homicide numbers sat at 20 in 2019 – the pandemic in 2020 saw 31 murders, with a recent peak in 2022 of 42 after the tragic stabbings at the James Smith Cree Nation saw 11 people killed.

In 2023 the province saw 30 murders – one third of which took place in Regina.

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