Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I took over the helm of the chief of police in Calgary in October of this year. Prior to that, I oversaw our patrol operations division, which currently looks after the entire front line of the Calgary police.
I've been asked to speak to you today about the impacts of methamphetamines—commonly known as meth—from the municipal policing perspective. I won't go into great detail about the production of meth because I'm assuming that's been covered off by the RCMP. From the Calgary perspective, very few meth labs are found in our city. The vast majority of our meth is imported from British Columbia or from Mexico.
Over the last five years, meth seizures in Calgary have increased significantly, with 2018 predicted to be the highest yet. Currently, we're sitting at about 130% over our five-year average, with more than 1,769 incidents this year alone. Fentanyl has also seen a big increase since 2013. Calgary is currently 242% over the five-year average. Just last week, my officers seized approximately 10 kilograms of meth in Calgary—worth about $400,000—along with some cocaine and fentanyl.
This same trend has been seen across Alberta. Lethbridge police reported that they're currently sitting at 275% increase over their four-year meth seizure. The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team reports that the quantity of meth seizure during their investigations went from 59 grams in 2013 to more than 27 kilograms in 2016. Adding to the glut of the supply, the price of meth has dropped significantly. In 2015, it was selling for about $100 per gram. We're now down to close to $50 per gram. Putting that into perspective, we're looking at about $5 a hit. This one dose can last up to 24 hours.
Meth is consumed by injecting or smoking and produces a very long high—up to 24 hours—usually followed by a binge of uncontrolled drug and alcohol use, which can last anywhere up to two weeks.
In Alberta, we're finding that needle debris is a common complaint in many places in our downtown core. A longer high, cheaper prices and increased availability gives meth a significant draw for individuals with substance use disorder. Fentanyl has received a lot of attention. We strongly believe fentanyl is a community health crisis, but meth is a crime and safety issue. Fentanyl affects individual families in a very tragic way, but meth impacts the perception and reality of safety in our community in Alberta.
Meth is fuelling much of the crime in our city. We're currently ranked number one in the country for stolen vehicles and have witnessed a number of recent unprovoked violent attacks on innocent bystanders. These are innocent people who happen to be in the public place when a meth-fuelled individual takes drastic actions to cause them life-threatening harm. This summer alone, I ended up witnessing, through my officers, a woman who stabbed three people within 20 minutes—all random. In another case, a senior sitting on a bench in our downtown core was stabbed multiple times.
Just recently, we had a woman standing on our CTrain platform and another young lady came up behind her and pushed her off the CTrain platform. She was not hit by the train, but is now paralyzed. This young lady—our suspect in this case—was high on meth at the time.
It is also a significant officer safety issue. Earlier this year, Honourable Chief Justice Wittmann released an independent report on a review of force in the CPS. In the review, Justice Wittmann found drug use and mental health concerns were identified as factors for 46% of subjects involved in our officer-involved shootings. The primary weapons used by subjects were vehicles, edged weapons and firearms.
Our auto theft team tells me that most of their arrests recently have been meth-addicted offenders—every single one of them. These offenders often drive impaired. It's different from alcohol impairment. They're very motivated and take immense risks with the safety of the public. They are determined to evade apprehension out of fear of not being able to get their next fix. Since October, we've had 139 vehicle events where a driver, typically in a stolen vehicle, flees police. We believe the majority of the drivers in these situations are under the influence of drugs and are constantly putting our public at risk.
We had four confirmed cases of impaired driving in 2016 involving meth. In 2017, that had jumped to 13. This year, we are waiting for toxicology, but we expect that to be well above 17. These figures do not include the people with whom we are involved in pursuits. This is just the regular public.
Meth is also driving our residential break and enters in Calgary. What I'm finding more alarming than anything is our nighttime break and enters, when families are home asleep. We are finding that these numbers are going through the roof. The major reason behind it is that these offenders are going into the homes and stealing the keys of the vehicles because they aren't able to steal the regular vehicles, since the newer vehicles are harder to steal.
They use the meth to keep themselves awake for their crime sprees. Offenders frequently report that they experience insomnia and remain awake for days at a time, while consuming meth. During these periods, the offenders are prolific in their activities and commit large volumes of crime, beyond what could otherwise be expected.
We've recognized the need to take immediate action in Calgary. We've started up an operation, which will be a long-standing operation, that will be dealing with our drug houses and all our social disorder and property crimes in the community. We're also working to educate our citizens on the current trends and pressing drug-related issues within our community, while working with our partners to find solutions to address the root cause of the addiction.
When I look at the tools on an officer's belt, there isn't a single one that will help people in the throes of an addiction. We can arrest the drug traffickers, who are preying on our vulnerable addicted population, but if the demand is there, another trafficker will take their place. My officers are worn out with the continual grind of arresting the same individuals for drug and property crimes in the morning and having them back on the street during the day.
What we need is an answer to the mental health and drug addiction plaguing our province and our country. We need to stop reacting to the specific substance of harm and deal with the strategies of obtaining treatment for all substances. We need to continue working with our partners in health and in the social sector to put forward the resources and evidence-based solutions to mental health and addiction. We need to find new ways to address the low-level criminal aspects in our justice system.
We are really good at processing cases involving physical harm to people, but I would rather be able to stop it before it gets to that level and another innocent person is harmed.
Thank you for your time.