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Saskatoon community association calling on police for assistance following string of harassment incidents

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Following a two-day stretch in October where residents reported being followed and harassed by strangers in the Caswell Hill neighbourhood, the community association is drawing the attention of police for help.

“We wanted to let police know that there were three incidents within two days and it’s not just the usual stuff that you see sometimes, like property crime and broken windows,” said Ian Roach, public safety coordinator with the Caswell Hill Community Association.

On Oct. 21 and 22, residents in the Caswell Hill community Facebook group posted three different instances where they were followed, chased, yelled at and harassed by strangers while out and about in the area.

“These are incidents where people felt they were unsafe or felt they were deliberately followed either on vehicle or on bicycle,” Roach said.

These incidents prompted the community association to write a letter to the Board of Police Commissioner’s, bringing it to the attention of the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS).

“To have three in two days, people should feel safe walking around their community, if there’s a problem like this we should alert the police and make sure these incidents get reported and then police can respond, whether it’s increased patrols or whatever they do to respond,” Roach told CTV News.

During the Board of Police Commissioner’s meeting on Thursday, police chief Troy Cooper said it’s likely these incidents weren’t reported to police, but SPS is working with the community association to learn more about these incidents and take a proactive approach to ensure people are safe when out in the community.

“They are concerning incidents of harassment or discomfort in the neighbourhood,” Cooper said. “We’re also going to be able to examine these specific offences and adjust resources with proactive policing measures.”

Roach said these types of harassment cases are rare in Caswell Hill, but feels underlying issues around homelessness, addictions and mental health are driving this.

“As we have less light and more darkness it’s scary, people should feel comfortable walking their dogs, being out in the community and that’s our priority to make sure Caswell could be a safer place for our families who live here,” Roach said.

Cooper noted in the meeting how overall property crime and crimes against people are on a downward trend, despite the emergence of these complaints.

So far in 2021, Cooper says police have recorded 333 property crimes, which is down from the five-year average of 451 property crimes per year. For crimes committed against a person, police have recorded 84 crimes so far, while the five-year average is 88.

“Although these are concerning issues we do also see crime and reported crime trending in the right direction,” Cooper said.

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