By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
It’s been a scary start to 2018 in the City of Oshawa.
Multiple shootings just this past weekend have left one person dead, another in hospital, and a stabbing earlier this month left a 17-year-old high school student dead, and a 16-year-old arrested.
The murder of Rori Hache continues to dominate headlines as the suspect charged in connection to her murder makes several court appearances, and a number of residents are calling on the Durham Regional Police to reopen the probe in the death of Cameron Bailie.
Speaking before Oshawa council on Jan. 29, DPRS Chief Paul Martin noted that there seems to be a cloud hanging over the community as high-profile crime continues to circle in Oshawa.
“I know there is angst and uncertainty in the community, from the Rori Hache (case), to the disappearance of Cameron Bailie,” he said, noting that while he is unable to speak about ongoing investigations, the DRPS will continue to keep the community informed regarding these incidents. He also noted that despite the current environment and “large city problems” Oshawa remains a safe place to live.
“For a large city…it is still one of the safest large cities in Canada,” he said.
The appearance of Chief Martin before council came less than 24 hours after a double shooting on Oxford Street in Oshawa left one 22-year-old man dead and another in hospital.
Martin took the chance to assure residents that the shooting, along with other recent criminal activity, are not random acts.
“This is not random, I would suggest to you, most people within our communities that would exercise normal vigilance…probably wouldn’t come across this,” Martin said. “I can assure the community that if you’re taking normal precautions…chances are low you will see any of this trouble.”
However, he did acknowledge the fact that at times, residents can be caught inadvertently in the crossfire. The shooting on Jan. 29 saw a stray bullet enter the lobby of the Oxford Street apartment.
“That is definitely a very big concern,” Martin said.
With that noted, Chief Martin was in attendance at the meeting to share details about the police force’s actions throughout 2017 and ongoing crime trends.
Inspector David Saliba with the DPRS explained that over the past year, the city has seen a “dramatic” increase in the amount of property crimes with numbers jumping 19 per cent, along with a 20 per cent increase in break and enters, with most of the those incidents being attributed to break-ins at storage units and sheds or garages. The city also saw shoplifting incidents increase by 37 per cent, along with a 24 per cent increase in sexual assaults. This increase was particularly concerning to members of council.
“We’re looking at this disturbing increase,” Saliba explained, while noting that part of the increase could be attributed to the changing climate around sexual assault incidents and more women feeling comfortable with coming forward to report such assaults.
“I think these social awareness campaigns have really hit home for a lot of victims,” Saliba explained. “We have demonstrated our ability to work with victims very, very closely.”