Archive for the ‘Crime Analysis’ Category

Most attackers are known to you, in domestic abuse they are likely repeat offences. (source)
Audio by Jonathan Fader

Last week I wrote the article, “If you were attacked, was it your fault?” Though it shouldn’t be, it is quite a controversial concept, as who wants to take responsibility, even partially, for being attacked? Usually no one. We tend to prefer our understanding of things from to be binary, we apply a black and white perspective to some categories, yet often, and simultaneously, we adhere to a belief in “grey areas” and “a spectrum” for others. The thing is, you have to pick; in reality most occurrences fit the bell curve model and are not so black and white. Ideally, all events in our lives should be analyzed case by case, but this is an energy intensive way of looking at the world (mentally and emotionally), so, as we are human and prefer easy answers, we apply blanket logic, even when it is the most inappropriate.

That being said, when you are mugged, robbed, or otherwise attacked by a stranger, it is considerably more black and white than when you are attacked by someone you know. As martial artists we often focus only on the former, even though most of the time it is actually the latter that is a problem. One Glasgow University study found that, of the 991 sexual assault victims they interviewed, almost 90% knew their attacker (with only 9% being victimized by strangers).

One of the reasons we don’t talk about it openly, on average, is because it’s difficult, messy, emotionally charged, and so grey (full of various shades) that it is like being colour blind and then trying to tell the difference between red and green.

Yet, as a self-defence instructor, both in my personal and professional life I have encountered many, many, many individuals who have experienced any combination of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Yes, it is mostly women who have lived through these scenarios, but I have also met men who have had such experiences.

As a society, while some people are willing discuss “violence within social circles,” family violence, or partner abuse (often politicized), the general attitude is to pretend like everything is alright, when, if you know where to find it, you can witness the worst of humanity.

To emphasize this point I would like to relate an experience I had dealing with “hoarder houses.” No, not some TV show, but rather what I have actually seen while working for company that handled large scale junk removal. Much to my surprise, extreme examples exist in an area like Metro Vancouver. In fact, they were far more numerous than one would think, and often these houses looked no different then the ones next to them, from the outside. One of the most unfortunately memorable and disturbing cases was a home in which a man, who was clearly a heroin junkie and single father with several kids. Our best guess, based on the conditions we encountered and the items we removed, was that this individual routinely locked his children under the stairs, in cages, leaving them to defecate in yogurt bottles while he got high.

Yes, you read that right.

Abuses by family or friends are very much like these hoarder houses; individuals, both victims and abusers, often go to great lengths to hide the fact that it is happening. This could be due to fear, shame, misguided loyalty, or any of various other reasons why silence occurs. One thing I know for sure is that in most cases society fails to reasonably deal with these horrible situations.

For adults, getting out could mean losing financial stability, shelter, and social support from friends and family. For children, it is far more complicated.

Of the abuse victims I have met, several have admitted privately that they “didn’t say anything” because they did not want it to break the family apart. For others it’s simply shame and fear of judgement. The responsibility to protect yourself, however complex the situation may be, is more on the victims themselves (and, yes, I understand the psychology involved is also quite grey).

When it comes to children the fault is primarily on the “responsible adults” in their lives, the ones who are often choosing to ignore the obvious signs of abuse.

Regarding adults, an example I encountered in my own life was a friend I had long ago. They regularly made bad decisions, even though they knew it was bad (they had a pathological case of cognitive dissonance). One time, late at night, they called me asking me to pick them up because their partner was being abusive. I showed up, and as they were walking to the car their partner started sprinting toward the vehicle. I pulled a move that I wish I had filmed. As I opened the passenger door, grabbed their hand, pulled them into the vehicle. I sped forward and did a 180, while their partner was punching the driver’s side window so hard they left bloody knuckle marks. My friend called the police and they asked if we wanted to press charges. My friend did not. (I could have, and I honestly don’t recall why I did’t.)

Later that night my friend asked me to take them back…

They were out and could have easily chosen to leave permanently.

One month later, their partner was stabbed and killed in a fight (after pulling their own knife in a struggle). The newspapers reported “what a saint this guy was” on account of him being a volunteer firefighter, and his mother couldn’t understand why her “lovely son” died. Except, I, like others, knew the truth. They ignored the fact that he was violent, had a criminal record, and was, quite frankly, a piece of shit.

When it comes to children it’s even more complicated, largely on account of what happens when it is deemed that they should be removed from their parents or guardians due to abuse. Well, they often end up in “the system”, a Child Welfare system in which in many cases is worse for the child than their own home. Yes, the home in which they were being abused.

Horrible, I know. The reality is, with kids or adults, one of the best things you can do is try to offer them sanctuary and, if possible with kids, try to gain some form of guardianship. Of course, “the system” doesn’t make this easy either.

If at this point you are having difficulty reading this, it is okay. It’s a dark subject (and I am barely even scratching the surface). Yet, while the world is currently the best place it has ever been to live (ignore the fear-mongering), there is still evil and darkness out there, even close to home.

We as a society have a tendency to only focus on that which can be politicized rather than that which is obviously wrong with what we have built. The simplest thing we can do is help those in our lives who may be at risk; by doing whatever you can. Whether that means paying for their self-defence lessons, providing them with shelter, or giving them financial support, you can do more than you think. Whatever you decide, know that you are probably better help than the system.

The government and the justice system have completely failed on this matter, at least in the West. In other countries there isn’t even a system to help those who are or would be abused.

For many the world is better than ever, for others it is still a nightmare.

When we talk about these topics we must be honest and not jump on one-liners, slogans, or broad statements. It must be case by case, requiring sincere consideration.

If you know someone, female, male, or other, adult or child, who you think is being abused, ask yourself, “What can you do to help?”

Written: by Jonathan Fader

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This is the third part in a series, starting with “Its Not So Black and White,” on the topic of police brutality, training, and various misconceptions thereof.

Audio by: Jonathan Fader – There is some additional commentary in the Audio
Regular training allows forceful restraint to be applied with caution and control. (source)

In last weeks post, “Understanding Use of Force,” I discussed the difficult nature of applying “use of force” concepts and making the correct decision, in the smallest amount of time, while under duress. While, yes, there are malicious police, I would say 10-20% (these are the ones that need to go), the rest are simply good people with an extremely difficult job. A job where everything you do and say is scrutinized to a level that would drive even the most stable person a little nuts. This is why even good officers will often side with their fellow members, even the bad ones, because of the “Us vs Them” principle.

In the media we once again see calls for removing more justifications for the use of force from police, rather than demanding better training and member selection. Slogans like “defund the police,” though popular on social media, are very misguided and misleading to the point that many top politicians who support the general movement are distancing themselves from them. What people need to understand is that the very LOUD minority on social media tends to disproportionately drive the conversation, causing “groupthink” to lead the masses into piling-on with out any real idea of what to do or how to make a meaningful change. “Defund the police” is no different than saying take away their tools.

Once upon a time the police were armed with batons and guns, and many times the smallest altercations meant extreme violence. Then they added non-lethal tools like bean bag guns, rubber bullets, mace, and tasers. Now we even see a trend toward a desire to take these tools away; this is akin to taking away a cat’s teeth. Then telling them they can’t even employ use of force concepts, because it isn’t nice, is like declawing that same cat. This idea that “no force is needed in many altercations” is, quite frankly, delusional. As, while there are certainly cases of police overstepping their bounds, most of the altercations resulting in violence are occurring due to extreme resistance. But before I move on, watch this video about why, with proper training (something I will discuss in another post), appropriate, controlled force (including Knee on the neck) is a necessary tool.

UTKM Lead Instructor Jonathan Fader – Shows appropriate use of Force with the Knee on the Neck

Please understand that, even if you don’t like this technique, if you read our previous post you may start to understand how difficult it is to control another person. As mentioned in this video, he is not resisting too much, mainly because he doesn’t want to; this is why controlled pain compliance is super important. Unless someone is on drugs or has a massive adrenaline spike most people will cease resisting and comply when you apply the appropriate pressure and give the appropriate verbal commands.

NO, two or three officers should NOT all be dog-piling or putting their knee on the neck. One trained individual should apply the technique, with others supporting by controlling the arms or legs.

I sincerely believe that most people who say police should not have any use of force options have no idea how dangerous the job is. Just because you will not be violent towards police doesn’t mean others won’t.

While there are definitely racial issues at play (on a global scale, stop pretending it’s just the US), when it comes to policing we should not assume every altercation is about race. If you believe it’s systemic then attempt to understand the issues within the system that make it appear that way to you. Remember, in a world with conflicting voices the middle ground is often where you need to be.

This means, better training and standards for policing BUT still allowing them to do the job while staying safe, which includes techniques like the knee-on-neck.

I have recently seen suggestions that there be unarmed, trained individuals available to deal with calls that require a lighter touch, such as social workers for calls related to non-violent mental illness. But, if you think for a second that their training should not include the use of force, then you are not being realistic about possible escalations. Talk to any ER Psych nurse or social worker and ask if they have ever been in a near violent or violent situation. These are hard jobs where getting attacked is a reality. Some people, for whatever reason, do not care about consequences and will be unpredictably violent; this includes towards the police and towards civilian role which require direct interaction. By removing use of force training and tools you are actually putting more people in unnecessary danger.

And to those of you who have multiple, negative police encounters (outside of racial contexts), you need to ask yourself “why are having so many bad encounters?” If you don’t take personal responsibility for your actions you are not being honest. Because, lets be reasonable, most encounters with the police are, by their very nature, negative experiences, as you only usually deal with the police in situations that are not ideal; from paying fines, to violent incidents. I have had both positive and negative encounters with the police, but for me the most frustrating issue, for both me and the police, is that often the responding officers cannot get involved because it’s “not an imminent threat.” Even if they agree that something should be done about a person, they don’t, because the system doesn’t always allow it. Which means they slowly become jaded and any time there is any “action” even the best of police can get caught up in the moment.

This is exactly why we must insist on better training for the police, and an understanding that the solution isn’t always going to be a move to “defang the police.”

Now that you have watched the above video and you have read these articles, it is my hope that you understand why techniques like knee-on-neck are important tools; they are, on average, less dangerous than other tools such as rubber bullets and tasers. So, before you jump on the Internet bandwagon, ask yourself, “Do I really understand use of force concepts?” and “Where does my hate for the police actually come from?”

Written by: Jonathan Fader

For training online visit at www.utkmu.com, or if you are in the metro Vancouver area come learn from me in person www.urbantacticskm.com

The divisions and reasons behind conflict are not always a clear as they seem (source)
Audio by: Jonathan Fader

Once again, another major event has occurred that has caused global issues, albeit more centered in North America. Yes, I’m referring to the death of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin, which has sparked mass protests, both violent and peaceful. (These protests, by the way, are clearly in violation of Covid restrictions; something that, it seems, some people have already forgotten.) A month ago protests were seen as disgraceful and disrespectful but now such gatherings are justifiable, because the cause is just. Because, of course, this is a black vs white issue right?

Wrong.

The attitude that allowed former officer Chauvin to stay on the force is the attitude that is going on now. The fact that laws, standards, and morals are almost never applied equally, and justifications for one thing over another will always shift to suit your beliefs, or that of the general narrative that you support. The real problem is that, consistently and with out fail, standards and rules are never applied equally; not just in the government but also in your own world views.

Example: You took the stance that anyone violating lock-down was selfish and foolish. But you now believe that it is okay to gather en mass to protest the death of George Floyd. This indicates that you are okay with mass gatherings only if you agree with the cause. This is a failure to apply a belief equally. It was NOT okay for governments to destroy businesses via lock-down and it was NOT okay that George Floyd died in such a manner. In both cases injustice was done, but your stance changed because of your belief system.

Let me take a step back for a second and talk about the event in question.

First of all, let me be clear, what happened to George Floyd was a disgrace and unacceptable. The officer had numerous complaints related to similar behaviour over the years, and should never have been allowed to continue on the force. The failure of law enforcement agencies to apply the law equally to themselves is the problem here! (Just like when politicians break the law and are not held accountable.) This is the underlying problem and has less to do with Black and White than it does with flawed systems. Why do I say that? Well, it is simple: There were other officers present who were not white, yet they did nothing.

This is probably because of what psychology calls “in-group favouritism” (or “in-group–out-group bias”). Meaning that, though the other officers may see something wrong, most will not do or say anything because they want to protect their group (the police) and not the outsider (the suspect).

Additionally, there are cases in which black police officers abuse their power, yet you don’t hear much about it. A recent example can be found here (a little research turns up many more), albeit this example did not end nearly as badly. But in our modern culture, if you don’t hear about it, it doesn’t exist right?

SIDE NOTE: As someone who teaches use of force the knee on the neck is a perfectly legitimate and necessary technique to control those who are resisting. George Floyd was NOT resisting, so it was not the appropriate technique. If you do use it, it should only be for a short period to elicit compliance. It must be used appropriately and requires appropriate training! It is, in my opinion, a very necessary technique. Unfortunately, due to lack of training and a general dislike of the technique (due to misconceptions) it is often not allowed even where it may be appropriate. With training, this technique can be applied with control, in fact, I had to use it at a party once, after several drinks, to subdue someone for a lengthy period of time. Of course, I controlled my pressure appropriately, and even after 20 minutes the would-be aggressor was fine. If I am able to safely employ that technique for a long duration, while intoxicated, how is it that so many police officers fail to? That is the question you should ask yourself.

So let’s address the issue of the “bad apples.” In the police or military there are always individuals who met the entry requirements but who should not be there; yet they are often allowed to stay. In-group favouritism is certainly one aspect, but it might actually be something more simple.

To explain, I will tell another one of my stories! YAY!

When I was in the military, my infantry unit was tasked with arresting a high profile target known for weapons smuggling. He was notorious for running to evade capture. The target was so high profile that special forces were suppose to pick him up, yet we were the only unit available. After briefing and prepping we ended up waiting hours and hours and hours to get the command to go. We ended up going at 2am or 3am the morning after our day of prepping. This means we were all exhausted. We did arrest the target, without resistance, and he was placed in our armored car. As per IDF prisoner transport procedures he was handcuffed and blindfolded. At some point a fellow soldier, whom I had great distaste for, began to strike our helpless captive. I told him to stop, and it got quite heated; this individual saw no problem with his actions, but I did. Most other soldiers were passed out from exhaustion, including the commanders in the front. The commotion of our argument lead to the commanding officer telling this individual he must stop, as his actions were unacceptable. The solider in question was kicked out of combat. Three months later, I heard that he was being let back in. I went to the Battalion Commander and protested his reinstatement. I was told that he was being let back in because they were “short staffed and needed more soldiers.” This is the crux of the problem in the military and police: There are never enough people or resources to keep the good ones in.

So who’s fault is this? Why, the public of course! In North America first-responders are often the first to have their funding cut (this includes paramedics and firefighters), as a result they are often under-trained and poorly paid. We all know it, yet no one does anything about it. Politicians continue to cut training, over work them, and allow SHIT HEADS to stay simply because they need the bodies.

While I am not an expert on US policing, I can say that, without a doubt, the standards of US policing in many counties and cities is not great. One of the reasons could be because they don’t want capable people in the police, as suggested by a court ruling saying you can actually be too smart to be a police officer. This is common, as they want people who don’t rock the boat. In addition, it is common to see out-of-shape or fat officers, something which I think should not be allowed whatsoever.

In Canada, while our standards are much better, the standard of training is also quite shameful. I have talked to many officers who say they do not feel they are properly trained in use-of-force or even in shooting tactics. They are often required to train in their free time and pay out-of-pocket to do so. Furthermore, many feel that learning something not approved by the force will get them into trouble, even if they recognize that techniques and tactics being taught on the force are out of date.

So, how do we fix this problem? Simple. Demand from our politicians that they stop overworking first-responders, stop underpaying them, and train them properly. BUT, with the condition that they maintain high standards in order to attract only the best applicants.

With that being said, most officers are good people, as can be seen in many cases in the US where the police choose to kneel or peacefully interact with protesters. Which shows that perhaps the belief that “all police are bad” is wrong, and rather the system they operate in is deeply flawed as it is being run by those who are more “politician” than “expert on good policing.”

As this is one of the biggest problems with policing, I find it difficult to say it’s simply a matter of Black vs White. Why do I say that? In general there are more non-Black deaths by police then Black, and often this involves Black, White, Asian, or Hispanic officers. An example can be shown in these stats breaking down police shootings by race for the last few years. This, of course, does not include deaths as a result of the use of unarmed force, but it is likely those numbers would show something similar.

Would it not stand to reason, then, that the biggest issue is not race, but poor training, poor support, and the continued allowance, by politicians and justices, to keep shit head police on the force? (Recognizing that the officer involved in the death of George Floyd was likely a racist, as indicated by his history of complaints, to then assert that all death-by-cops is due to racism is a stretch.)

Additionally, if you would like to pretend like the majority of violent crimes are not committed by the same groups of people in any given country, then you are not being truthful. Unfortunately, in America a large percentage of violent crimes are committed in/by the Black community, just as in Canada they are committed in/by the Native communities. These of course are very unfortunate realities, often resultant from to lower socioeconomic status and poor education, which as fellow humans we should seek to rectify (these are complex issues!) If you think addressing problem at all is itself racist, then I am not sure you are someone who actually wants to solve the problems; rather you want to virtue signal to make yourself look good to the Internet mobs.

If you are not sure what I mean by addressing the issues meaningfully, I suggest you listen to the recent Joe Rogan podcast with Kevin Hart (Kevin Hart being one of America’s most successful Black entertainers today and someone worthy of great admiration and respect). To paraphrase Kevin, in an attempt to help the Black community he partnered with J.P. Morgan Chase to help educate Black communities in financial literacy. (Which is a FANTASTIC idea is actually a step toward solving a systemic problem.) Rather than pretending that it’s “all the white man’s fault”, Kevin Hart is offering up a meaningful and realistic solution.

So, let’s talk about the violent protests. I am sorry, but this kind of violence and destruction is unacceptable, no matter your stance. The reasons is simple: Destroying your own communities, your neighbours’ businesses, and generally upending everything around you, is not a healthy use of the anger and will only harm you and your community in the process. I do fully acknowledge that there are many “bad actors” at play, from ANTIFA to gangs to, yes, actual racists looking to insight violence. These groups should face the full wrath of the law, just as the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death should. It’s disgraceful when people who are looking to cause mayhem and destruction detract from a just cause!

If you are sitting here, as a white person, saying “it’s justifiable” then why are so many Black leaders, or successful people who are not being political, in general calling out for peaceful resolutions:

(twitter.com)

Another issue I would like to addess is this idea of “white guilt.” Personally, I don’t understand it. If you did nothing wrong, why are you feeling guilty? I mean, as per my above statements, the only thing you did wrong is to allow politicians to run subpar police forces. Yelling about it without solutions is not a solution to that problem! How about another story: A while ago I took a “Psychology of Genocide” course as part of my degree. We had several Holocaust survivors come in to speak with the class. A question was asked about forgiveness of the Germans of today. For me, as a Jew, the answer given was one I had heard before: “There is nothing to forgive.” What the speaker actually means by this is that the grandchildren of the Nazis did not do anything wrong, so why should anyone forgive someone for something they didn’t do? The class seemed to interpret this as “Wow, these people are so empathetic and forgiving.” The truth is, in most cases they definitely would not be forgiving the individuals who were the Nazis who tortured them. Contrast this with the Rwandan Genocide survivor who also spoke, who was “less forgiving” because many of the people who committed that atrocity were still alive. Do you see the difference?

This idea that you need forgiveness for something you did not do is a waste of your emotional energy. Instead, why not put that same energy into making the police better, and increasing education in these communities like Kevin Hart is. Because, I am sorry, feeling guilty and saying it’s okay for entire communities to destroy themselves is shameful and not a real answer.

Okay, so, if I have not offended you to the point that you stopped reading long ago, I hope that I have given you several ideas to consider. The simple fact, is that things are never Black and White. Yes, there are racists out there. And, no, White people are not the only racists, so stop with that nonsense. But here’s the deal; whether you are Liberal or Conservative (Canada), Democrat or Republican (US) the fact is, whether you realize it or not, everyone agrees one way or another that the status quo system isn’t working! Rather than stoking violence and hate, why not educate yourself on how things actually work, or what actually happened, before jumping on the social media mobs. Actually attempt to make a difference through a vote that results in a policy shift.

Police need better training. The standards of officers MUST be higher so that these types of incidents never happen. And some communities need help with education and poverty, allowing them to lift up their people so that problems are solved at their source. If we make it about race these issues will not be addressed and problems will not be solved, because hate and frustration will drive the conversation instead of a desire for change.

So I ask, are you going to do something meaningful or are you just going to rage tweet, post, rage smash, and hate?

PS. Can you see now that the main stream media is only interested in spreading hate and violence? They are no longer here to bring you news, but to entice you to click and comment; paying their bills so they can continue this vicious cycle. (See Killer Mike, above, telling CNN that “Karma’s a ‘mother’.”)

Written by: Jonathan Fader

Canadian Guns.jpgIt no secret that I am pro firearm ownership. I am also pro-science. No I am not some crazy gun-toting lunatic or even someone who hits the range every weekend to enjoy legal shooting practices. I support gun rights as to me they are the great equalizer. Also as there are now in the world so many guns, as well as the technology to have guns I believe that any law-abiding citizen should be able to access them so long as they are reasonably trained in their safe use and are not mentally unstable.

As a self-defense instructor, I understand that there are many situations where those who use guns in an illegal or violent manner care little for those who do the opposite. Thus I believe it’s fair that law-abiding citizens be able to use and understand them especially in they even they are required for self-defense.

In Canada, while there are some very specific cases where a gun can legally be used in self-defense I generally tell people they are not allowed to be used in self-defense as the answer as to when they can is very complicated, very legal and very subjective. That does not mean, however, someone cannot try to use one against you in which case if you get a hold of it you better know how to safely use it lest you end up injuring your self. Therefore, in order to prepare for those who would ignore the law, I think it is very reasonable for those who respect the law to have the opportunity to use and train with firearms for the purpose of at least knowledge. I also hunt so there is also that.

Yet there are many out there, who believe that no one should have guns and that the exclusive right to such tools and the right to use of force should only be those in the government. This, by the way, sounds very close to behaviors one might see in a country with a dictator. There is a reason that in America, for example, they have the right, to have guns. It was understood that governments or at that time kings, often overreach their power and do things because of the “because I said so” rule.

People often seem to think this isn’t the case anymore yet individual rights and freedoms have slowly been eroding in western countries in the last 30 years and not enough people seem to care.

In Canada, we once again have a government hell-bent on restricting and limiting gun access and use. This despite having fairly strict and controlling rules in place already. Recently the current Minister of public safety Bill Blair, said that they may be using an OIC do change the gun laws. This if you do not know what it is, means they basically are pulling the “because we say so” rule, which is usually reserved for very specific matters like serious public unrest for example. This allows them to bypass any democratic processes that would normally be required to make such changes.

To me, this very much seems like the actions of a government that doesn’t care what most of the people or experts want. This is very political as it is a response to the unchecked gang violence in Canadas largest cities Toronto, and Montreal. Which also happens to be strategic voting blocks for federal elections. This seems to be the policy come hell or high water that the current government, as well as past governments under the Liberal brand, seem to want to push. This despite the fact that RCMP and other police chiefs, including Toronto, as well as the police unions have said that banning guns or restricting things further will not hamper an increase in gun violence, usually related to gangs.

So why, despite what the experts say, and despite what the data says do people in such a position of power insist on making such changes? Probably because the cause of the problem is complicated and hard to deal with. But changing the laws at the stroke of a pen is easy and buys votes in areas who might be wavering in strategic areas.

So what is the problem? It’s not guns its self but rather those who would use them illegally. Here is a short documentary from the CBC, highlighting gang violence and guns.

(For those of you reading outside of Canada, it should be noted that the CBC is the government-funded broadcaster. The current government recently re enstated them a large budget that was cut by the previous government. They are generally considered biased leaning in support of the Canadain Liberal party and are generally disliked by those who support full gun rights in Canada. However, they still are more objective in their news that most American news outlets. They have most of the sources I have posted regarding the general lack of support for a gun ban. This suggests that if even they present the case a gun ban is not really the solution then perhaps it might be true.)

Why people choose to join gangs is a complicated one, just like the factors determining homicide rates as loosely discussed in my last blog post. It is no one answer fixes all but usually a combination. Regardless, such people, often obtain guns illegally as in Canada at least if they are violent criminals or have a history of violence it is not likely they will be able to obtain a Canadian Firearms License or (PAL). So how do they get them? It’s easy, they are smuggled in from elsewhere, usually across the border. But don’t take my word for it, again here is a short video from the CBC discussing this problem.

Essentially, it is black market illegal guns responsible for the majority of homicides related to gang violence. As a certified PAL instructor I also know, that of deaths related to guns in Canada at least at any given point 70-80% of gun-related deaths are unfortunately actually suicide. 15-20% are classified as a ‘Misuse of a firearm’, which includes homicide, and the rest are usually accidents. Of these, most of the ones that are what we we consider violent homicides are again with illegally obtained firearms.

This means, that once again be careful of the stats. If stats are presented to you saying 15-20% of gun deaths are with guns, its a lot scarier than saying, yes but most of them that were violent used illegal guns…

This means that definitely in Canada, and I would make the argument also for the US, that guns themselves are not inherently the problem. But rather a failure to manage our societies to control gang violence, failure of governments and their respective agencies from curbing the illegal stream of illegal guns, or other illegal goods across the borders.

But what government in their right might would ever take responsibility for the issues? Likely not as then they would be hard press for re-election.

The Data and the experts who are objective all know guns are not the real problem. Using fear-mongering and misinformation to ban guns just to make it look like you did something is just wrong no matter which side of the political aisle you are on.

(I would like to point out that anti-gun politics sounds very similar to anti-climate change deniers, both groups ignore the data and the collective expertise on the subject matter. This is also another complicated topic which I could write about but I feel is maybe not the best topic for this blog.)

So once again, I say be objective, be honest, and leave the guns alone. At the very least learn your current gun laws (Ask an expert, like me) before you spout your opinion. And if you are in government and you dont know your own un laws before your make all sorts of falls claims like our current Prime Minister has done multiple times I say shame on you.

So please, be objective, stop trying to ban guns just because you do not understand them, or the actual issues that cause the violence in the first place.

chicago-police-tape-violent-crime-murder.jpg

I sit here writing this article in Surrey, BC. Considered by locals of metro Vancouver to be one of the more crime-ridden dangerous cities. The question I ask is how true is it actually? Recently in Richmond, BC in a local Tim Horton’s I heard what I can only presume to be an undercover officer, talking to two uniformed RCMP. While I only got the gist of the conversation, I think they were discussing the potential/Current transition in Surrey, From RCMP to a new Local Municipal Police force. The plain-clothed individual was discussing how dangerous it was in the Guildford area and how bad an idea it was to change to a local police force (A sentiment I do not agree with at all). The funny thing is I do not think its that dangerous as I can without much worry walk down the street late at night. I am not at all worried about being mugged or killed. The most likely cause I can think of me being seriously injured is a driver veering off into a curb that I happen to be on. Granted there are areas of Surrey with a higher crime rate. Or areas where there are mentally ill, homeless or drug-addicted individuals. Yet one of the major public transit areas, King George station happens to be in an area where many of these individuals spend their time. Yet day to day 10s of thousands of commuters travels without incident. Yes occasionally someone gets belligerent but I can’t recall the last time there was a homicide that wasn’t pre-meditated or targeted. No, it isn’t the neighborhood of the 50s with clean streets and white picket fences yet comparatively to a global standard it is still very safe.

It can be difficult to quantitively measure danger from one city to another, or from one country to another due to differences in data collection, the accuracy of data and what constitutes a specific crime, but it is clear some are far more dangerous than others. Lets for example sake compare the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world by homicide to the top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada by Homicide. As well as the U.S. and various Global Data from country to country.

Homicide was chosen as it is the most extreme example of Violence as usually recorded by Crime Statistics. Additionally, it would take considerably more research to compile the data for all areas of crime, and unlike Canada, it is not neatly organized for me to look at so, for now, Homicides it is. This is of course not to belittle other crimes, such as rape or theft or property damage.

Let’s look at and unpack the data surrounding homicide. Lets also for the sake of argument, that as the most extreme form of violent crime it is a relative measure of the overall crime or rather danger to life from one place to another. A more in-depth look at data might show differently but for the time being this comparison seems like a reasonable assumption.

Global top 10 most dangerous cities by Homicide (2018)

Rank City, Country Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
1 Tijuana, Mexico 138 2640 1,909,424
2 Acapulco, Mexico 111 948 857,883
3 Caracas, Venezuela 100 2980 2,980,492
4 Ciudad Victoria, Mexico 86 314 365,089
5 Ciudad Juarez, Mexico 86 1251 1,462,133
6 Irapuato, Mexico 81 473 580,808
7 Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela 78 645 823, 722
8 Natal, Brazil 75 1,185 1,587,055
9 Fortaleza, Brazil 69 2724 3,939,460
10 Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela 69 264 382,095
     Total: 13,424 5,908,610

*date from 2018 numbers for publication in 2019 Source: https://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/travel/news/2019/07/24/most-dangerous-cities-world-tijuana-caracas-cape-town/1813211001/

Canadian Rates

As this is a comparison, and I am in Canada, let’s use some Canadian data.

Top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada by Homicide (2018)

Rank City, Province Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
1 Williams Lake, BC 28.03 3 10,704
2 Thompson, MB 20.64 3 14,535
3 Prince Rupert, BC 16.25 2 12,308
4 Wetaskiwin, AB 13.13 2 15,229
5 Penticton, BC 11.13 4 39,950
6 Oak Bay, BC 10.19 2 19,627
7 Marinville, AB 9.64 1 10,369
8 Langley, BC 7.12 2 28,076
9 West Nipissing, ON 6.83 1 14,633
10 Cold Lake, AB 6.73 1 14,848
     Total: 21 180,279

*date from 2018 numbers for publication in 2019

There is clearly a stark contrast between your likelihood to be murdered outside of Canada, Particularly in many people’s favourite tourist destination Mexico than in Canada. In fact, statistically, you are more likely to be murdered in small-town Canada, and Ironically most likely in Smalltown BC, than in the big cities.

Top 10 most dangerous cities in Canada by Homicide (Large Cities, 500,000 + Population 2018)

Rank Rank by Population City, Province Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
23 6 Edmonton, AB 4.18 41 981,280
32 7 Winnipeg, MB 3.2 24 749,534
38 8 Vancouver, BC 2.81 19 676,904
42 10 Surrey, BC 2.31 12 518,467
44 4 Calgary, AB 2.17 29 1,336,274
45 1 Toronto, ON 2.15 63 2,929,886
59 9 Quebec City and area, QB 1.56 9 578,712
67 5 Ottawa, ON 1.41 14 994,837
74 2 Montreal and area, QB 1.23 25 2,033,189
79 3 Mississauga and Brampton 1.05 15 1,432,200
       TOTAL: 251 12,231,283

For reference, the Total Canadian Homicides in 2018, In Canada, was 651

US Rates

How does this far compare to our southern neighbors, the 3rd most populous country in the world has extremely comprehensive data collection which would take quite some time to look through but in general the US with a population of 327.2 Million in 2018 , had around 15,498 Homicides, with a rate per 100,000 of 5.0.

It should be noted that the per 100,000 homicide rate has been in decline for several years in the US.

Top 10 most dangerous cities by Homicide in the US. (2017)

Rank City, Province Homicides per 100,000 Actual Homicides Population
1 St. Louis, Missouri 66.07 2082.29 310,284
2 Baltimore, Maryland 55.77 2029.01 613,217
3 Detroit, Michigan 39.80 2056.67 670,792
4 New Orleans, Louisiana 39.50 1121.41 397,447
5 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 38.26 1026.81 227,403
6 Kansas City, Missouri 30.93 1724.31 484,948
7 Cleveland, Ohio 27.77 1556.76 385,391
8 Memphis, Tennessee 27.73 2003.32 652,765
9 Newark, NJ 27.14 896.45 283673
10 Chicago, IL 24.13 1098.86 2,706,171
      15595.89 6,732,091

*date is from 2017 FBI data as compiled by Wikipedia

The total 2017 number of homicides in the US is 17,284. This actually places the US 7th in the world by Homicide numbers globally. This is the data often cited as the issue with the US and violence, more particularly gun crime but of course this does not paint the whole picture. As you can see the total Homicide number is 17,284 but the top 10 cities in 2017 had a total Homicide number of 15,595.89 which accounts for 90% of the total homicides. This means that if the total country has a rate of 5.3 homicides per 1000, these 10 cities account for most of it. This means the entire rest of the country without these cities would have a rate much closer to other western countries. This suggests that it is less of a country problem and more to do with crime and other cultural issues specific to these cities.

Global Rates

Ok so we have done Canada, and the US, let’s take a look at the world by Country. It should be noted that global stats are definitely not 100% accurate as some countries have very poor data collection as well as what is determined a crime or homicide can vary but it can be assumed that generally anyone who was killed without wanting it would be if recorded, a homicide. Additionally, the data is not to date, as it seems the data is based on the last known accurate report. It is likely some countries are more, and some less but this gives an approximate idea.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Countries in the World by Homicide per 100,000

Rank Country Homicides per 100,000 Data Year Actual Homicides Population

(Data Year)

1 El Salvador 61.80 2017 3,942 6.378 Mil.
2 Jamaica 57 2017 1,647 2.89 Mil
3 Venezuela 56.33 2016 17,778 31.57 Mil.
4 US Virgin Islands 49.26 2012 52 108,191
5 Honduras 41.70 2017 3,864 9.265 Mil.
6 Lesotho 41.25 2015 897 2.175 Mil.
7 Belize 37.90 2017 142 274,681
8 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 36.46 2016 40 109, 643
9 South Africa 35.90 2017 20,336 56.72 Mil.
10 Saint Kitts and Nevis 34.23 2012 18 52,591
    45.18 (Average)   48,716(Sum) 109,543,106 (Approx. Sum)

 

For those who are wondering, Canada is 151st out of 230 countries with a per 100,000 rate of 1.80.

Top 10 most dangerous countries in the World by Actual Homicide numbers

Rank Country Homicides per 100,000 Data Year Actual Homicides Population

(Data Year)

1 Brazil 30.5 2017 63,895 209.3 Mil.
2 India 3.22 2016 42,678 1.324 Bil.
3 Mexico 24.80 2017 32,079 129.2 Mil.
4 South Africa 35.90 2017 20,336 56.72 Mil.
5 Nigeria 9.85 2015 17,843 181.2 Mil.
6 Venezuela 56.33 2016 17,778 31.57 Mil.
7 United States 5.30 2017 17,284 325.7 Mil
8 Russia 9.20 2017 13,293 144.5 Mil.
9 Columbia 24.90 2017 12,237 49.07 Mil
10 The Democratic Republic of the Congo 13.55 2015 10,322 76.2 Mil.
    21.36   247,745 (Sum) 2,527,460,000 (Aprox Sum)

Again if you are wondering Canada, is 66th out of 231 countries with a total homicide number of 660.

This means that the top 10 most dangerous countries by per 100,000 numbers in the world account for approximately 1.4% of the world population based on the 2017 number of 7.5 billion. Yet you are statistically more likely to be murdered in those 10 countries even though some of them have low population counts, with an average rate per 100,000 of 45.18 and a total number of 48,716 Murders.

Compared that to the top 10 most dangerous countries by actually homicide numbers accounts for approximately 33.6% of the world’s population with an average rater per 100,000 of 21.36 and a total number of murders of 247,745. The average is heavily skewed by 4 of the 10 countries as some of them like India only have a rate of 3.22 per 100,000.

Remember, especially for the global numbers these are approximate as the data years are not exactly the same and these are only recorded homicides and there may be many more thousands that go unrecorded in many of these countries.

So what does this all mean?

If you know anything about statistics, or if you even picked it up in the numbers. Depending on what numbers you use can dictate how you paint the picture if a place is more dangerous or safer. This is called manipulation. In this article, I am simply presenting what I found, how you choose to interpret it is up to you.

A question you could ask is why do some countries with a low general population of high homicide rates while other countries with large populations have low homicide rates. It could simply be that the statistical data is not entirely accurate, or a more probable cause is that there are specific things that are often regional that cause the populous to be more inclined to murder each other.

Some of these factors could be:

  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Poor education
  • Gang Violence
  • War

Of course, there could be many other factors but these are generally some of the big ones. Take Mexico for example. Mexico is currently experiencing dramatically higher homicide rates to the constant violent confrontations between Cartels, Military and independent groups like the Mormons. This spike in violence is heavily related to the drug trade, corruption and a lust for power.

A few years Ago starting in 2009, Metro Vancouver saw a higher than normal homicide rate due to an ongoing Gang War between rival Gangs

This would have given the perception that Vancouver was more violent but statistically if you were not involved in these wars you were relatively safe, though several civilians were killed in several incidents which cause a severe crackdown on the violence. Since then things have only ever been safer.

In America, as mentioned there are 10 cities responsible for most of the homicide and without said cities, their per 100,000 would actually be fairly low. This topic could be looked into quite in-depth but for now let’s just say it is most likely due to low socio-economic status of certain regions in the cities, lower education rates and of course gang Violence. It is likely that if these issues were addressed their homicide rates would dramatically decrease.

Despite Wars or other spiking factors, I would seem that over the last 10-20-30 years there seem to be several cities in any country and several countries which consistently are at or hover near the top 10. This means the underlying issues fueling the homicide rates are clearly not being dealt with. Here is a lose break down over the last few years by country of per 100,000 homicide rates to paint the picture.

IS IT MORE DANGEROUS?

Here’s the thing, I live in the Metro Vancouver area of Canada, which both statistically and anecdotally is safer than many places in Canada. And Canada is considerably safer than many of the other countries listed. Yet every so often I get students coming in saying this city is very violent and not safe. Much like the officers I overheard earlier discussing how dangerous that area of the city is.

Sure relatively to other areas the petty crim is probably, measurably higher but does that make it more dangerous? I think not.

Our perceptions often deceive us. In the western world we are being fed a narrative that things are more dangerous than ever, but clearly just on numbers alone compared to other countries or places it simply is not true.

While statistically, Williams Lake is more dangerous by Homicide but its population is just over 10,000 people. In Winnipeg, at the same time they had 13 times more homicide but with a population is also about 90 times larger. The Williams Lake homicides, if a regular annual occurrence, could suggest an issue with the community it’s self, while the rates in Winnipeg may just indicate it is a city with a specific crime problem that is hard to manage. Both these questions could do with some in-depth analysis, but ask your self as a visitor would you feel safer in a small town compared to a large city? I personally might assume that it is safer in small towns but the statistics would say otherwise. Then I would remember it’s not so black and white and probably not worry too much about it either way as I am not in a Gang nor am I intentionally looking for trouble both of which would dramatically decrease my likelihood of being murdered.

One thing I think I could say for certain is that there is a good chance that someone living in El Salvador, or parts of Mexico would much rather be living in Canada, or, The US because for them it is 100% without a doubt safer. (This does not mean there should be open borders FYI, this is a silly ideologically driven idea that in practical application is beyond foolish. But a topic for another time perhaps)

Like everything though, it is all relative.

A student coming to me who perhaps was assaulted, or has a history of being assaulted will perceive things to be more dangerous not less. It is their personal experience changing their perception, which most likely includes mental damage from their traumas. This could be PTSD or other things.

Regardless of your personal opinions or perceptions, Fact; globally on average, Despite the increase in population, the general Crime Stats are heavily on the decline (A good thing). This is why population increase does not mean more violence in the modern world so clearly, those other factors mentioned may be the cause.

If you are not familiar with the Author Steven Pinker, you should start. He has looked into this topic heavily and the data shows that no, things are not getting more dangerous but quite the opposite. In his book Enlightenment Now, this topic is heavily discussed, and I highly recommend it.

So how dangerous is your city, country, or hemisphere? While yes, if you are in one of the top 10 most dangerous places (measure it however you like) then things might be quite dangerous and hard. But if you happen to grow up in Vancouver, or many other western countries. Guess what, you are doing just fine and trauma aside, and outside specific countries, it is likely that for you my friend, the world is actually safer than ever.

And remember, Facts do not care about your feelings.