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Detachment to demand more officers

Fewer officers and higher caseloads than Alberta’s provincial average will lead Red Deer RCMP’s top cop to once again appeal to city council for more officers in 2013.

Supt. Warren Dosko said that he will make a “significant request” during the 2013 municipal operational budget talks, which start in early January.

Dosko said the city detachment has faced a staffing shortage for a number of years.

“Absolutely, we’re asking for more officers,” said Dosko. “But we also recognize that maybe we need to do police work differently.”

The City of Red Deer recently released crime statistics for the period between 2006 and 2011, as well as staffing levels at the detachment.

It showed the number of Criminal Code files per member at Red Deer City RCMP was nearly 150, compared with 99 as the provincial average.

Dosko said he’s concerned with the number of files because they speak to the health and wellness of his officers.

“And it speaks to the ability for our RCMP to do the investigative piece, the follow-up work,” he said.

Dosko said he’s given a wide range of statistics to the City of Red Deer and council so they understand more fully the demands being placed on RCMP over the last several years.

He’s been participating in budget workshops with the city, making sure that better information is given to civic leaders before budget talks.

The policing budget is a leading cost in the city’s operating budget. The RCMP contract involves a 90/10 split, where the city pays 90 per cent and the remainder is paid by the federal government. The province also provides a municipal policing grant on a per capita basis.

The detachment employs 131 Mounties, but only 56 of those are really dedicated to front-line, first response calls, said Dosko.

“We actually have 151 positions allocated to Red Deer RCMP,” said Dosko. “The city has actually chosen to not fund those 20 positions.”

The recently-released crime statistics also how many Criminal Code files each Mountie has per 1,000 residents. The detachment’s number is 202 per 1,000 residents, compared with the Alberta average of 139 files per 1,000 residents.

Dosko said this per capita figure is essentially the crime rate of the city.

“So we’re just about double the number of (other municipal detachments),” said Dosko.

The statistics also show how many police officers there are per 1,000 — 740 in Red Deer compared with the provincial average of 778.

“There’s a shift away from property crimes and more into persons crimes — and those are the files that consume a lot of our officers’ time,” said Dosko.

Dosko said the city has seen a nine per cent increase in crime to the end of September.

When the Mounties get so busy doing this kind of work, they spend less time doing preventive, proactive work, he added.

Crime prevention was an area that city council was keen on seeing strengthened after an extensive policing study was done.

“We have to take care of the core policing and then the preventive stuff is really like an enhancement,” said Dosko.

The crime statistics also revealed a 122 per cent jump in municipal violations — 2,525 in 2006 as opposed to 5,612 in 2011. Provincial traffic violations jumped 217 per cent from 5,369 in 2006 compared with 17,019 in 2011.

Dosko believes that recording statistics for municipal bylaws and traffic violations may have changed.

“We’re now feeding the statistics into the system whereas before maybe they were recording statistics outside the computerized system,” he said.

ltester@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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