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Police say traffic enforcement lowered crime rate

Lacombe experienced a decline in break-ins and drug offences, but car prowling and fraud cases rose from 2007 to 2011, according to statistics released by Lacombe Police Service on Tuesday.

Calls for service in 2011 amounted to 4,998 — a 24 per cent climb in calls since 2007.

Crimes against persons numbered 149 in 2011 as opposed to 145 in 2007. Break-ins totalled 30 in 2011 while in 2007, the number came in at 71. The thefts of motor vehicles came in at 24 in 2011, while in 2007 the number was 28.

Theft over $5,000 totalled four cases in 2011 and in 2007 it was two.

Other Criminal Code cases came in at 139 in 2011 while in 2007 the figure was 271.

Drug offences totalled 50 in 2011 while in 2007, the number was 59.

Theft under $5,000 offences totalled 228 cases in 2011 while in 2007 the number was 158.

Fewer prisoners were landing in cells as well — 276 in 2011 from 332 in 2007.

Police Chief Gary Leslie attributes the lower prisoner numbers to his department’s focus on community-based policing, which makes the officers more citizen-focused. They have more of a high-profile presence in local neighbourhoods, Leslie added.

“We can also attribute the overall decrease in crime in Lacombe to an active traffic enforcement policy in recent years,” said Leslie. “It helps to deter criminal elements from targeting our city.”

Lacombe Police Service entered into a traffic pilot project in July with the support of the Lacombe Police Commission. The program involved using a community peace officer in a traffic enforcement role working from the Lacombe Police office.

The program provided the police department with the flexibility of a trained peace officer to address a specific task, while freeing up officers to perform other duties. The four-month project concluded at the end of October and was found to have a significant impact on traffic, especially in addressing poor driving habits, said Leslie.

The City of Lacombe has since made the community peace officer position in traffic a permanent one.

Lacombe is also stepping up efforts to stamp out car prowling. A public awareness campaign, Hide It, lock it, or lose it, is underway.

The police department’s survey of residents in 2011 found that they were most concerned about crimes against persons, then scams and traffic.

With regards to crimes against persons, the police service has a member on the provincial police advisory committee dealing with domestic violence. The police service also works with local news media on educating people about scams, but residents still regularly report them and many of these scams originate outside the province and Canada.

Lacombe Police Service has 15 officers, nearly five staff employees and one community peace officer. It was established in 1900 and is one of the oldest police forces in Alberta.



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