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Increase in knife violence 'deeply concerning,' WRPS police chief says

Waterloo regional police have responded to 696 incidents involving knives in 2022, a 16.2 per cent rise from 2021
Knife-related violence continues to climb in the region, sparking concern from WRPS police chief Mark Crowell.

Violent crimes involving knives are becoming more of a problem in the Region of Waterloo.

The rise has caught the attention of the Waterloo Regional Police Service and chief Mark Crowell, who spoke on the issue at Wednesday's Police Services Board meeting.

“I can say that year over year, we have seen an increase in our violations where a knife was the most serious weapon,” Crowell said.

“Overall, we have seen an increase in knife related offences.”

More specifically, the region has seen 696 incidents involving knives in 2022 compared to 599 the previous year. That’s a 16.2 per cent increase.

Cambridge hasn’t been immune to the rash of knife-related violent incidents. Just this week a 21-year-old Cambridge man was stabbed by a 42-year-old Cambridge man at a No Frills grocery store in the area of Franklin Boulevard and Can-Amera Parkway.

The incident was so severe that the victim had to be transported to an out-of-region hospital with serious injuries.

The accused was charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

When reached for comment Loblaw Companies Limited, the company that owns No Frills, reiterated that employee safety is a top priority.

“We take the safety our colleagues and customers very seriously,” the statement said.

“However, since there is an ongoing police investigation regarding an incident that occurred in our Franklin Blvd. store, we are unable to comment further.”

The WRPS also couldn’t comment on the specifics as the investigation continues.

Any incident with a knife involved is treated seriously given the potential outcomes of the situation, Crowell says.

“When we hear about an incident involving a knife or stabbing, this is of big concern to us,” he said.

“We see them all as being potential homicides. We treat them with the utmost seriousness.”

Crowell believes part of the problem could be that people are becoming fearful of the potential outcomes of altercations and therefore are more likely to carry a weapon themselves.

“I think we are seeing a bit of a “one-up” mentality where if people fear that others that they're engaging with might have a weapon, then that brings some fear or confidence that they also need to carry a weapon,” he said.

“So what might in the past might have been just an encounter that didn’t involve a weapon, now seems to be involving weapons on an increasing scale.”

Regardless of the reason, there’s a clear impact being had on individuals, officers and the community as a whole. It’s something the police service is dedicated to fighting against.

“This is deeply traumatic for those involved, but also for the community at large and for our officers,” Crowell said.

“It’s deeply concerning, especially for those who may be involved in these interactions where their lives are on the line. Every single incident is a complex investigation and a complex crime scene that involves the victims, families, individuals and neighbourhoods.”