RCMP set to revamp services
Policing in Red Deer is in the midst of a major overhaul.
Leading the charge is Red Deer’s top cop, Supt. Warren Dosko, who says changing Red Deer’s image of being a dangerous place to live starts with delivering a good police service.
In the 18 months that Dosko has been on the job, the wheels have been set in motion to revamp the service so residents feel safe in their own community.
Dosko said on Tuesday that the RCMP strives to deliver a strategically focused police service that uses its resources efficiently and effectively.
He said police can only control the services they deliver.
“We need to make sure our focus and that our eye is on the ball and that we are using our resources strategically to address what our issues are,” said Dosko. “We need to ensure that our efforts are focused on community safety and they are intentional. Doing things because we have always done things is no longer acceptable. We need to challenge that status quo.”
A common reaction from the community is that more officers on the streets will reduce crime. Dosko does not believe in that philosophy for most cases. He said there’s a time when more policemen are needed and when their roles have to be articulated.
“It’s a very thin line around that more crime, more policemen,” said Dosko. “Sometimes the answer would be yes because if the policemen have to investigate certain crimes then absolutely you need the policemen to do that — but if the policemen are going to be doing other types of work, then maybe other employees could accomplish that work without it being a policeman. We need to find the right balance.”
A critical step in the process was city council establishing policing standards or benchmarks for RCMP this year. These set the foundation for future policing talks around allocation of city funds and measurements of success.
Several policing initiatives emerged from the report that will unfold over the next year. Dosko said one of the biggest drivers is the economics of policing and delivering a cost-effective service.
Dosko said that means stepping outside the traditional models of policing to look at the opportunities to deliver service in a way that is equal or even better than the current service.
In Red Deer, 60 per cent of the police calls are considered Priority 3: they do not require immediate attention, such as vandalism or vehicle theft. Dosko said it’s still a crime and there’s still a victim, and service is required.
But Red Deer RCMP do not have enough officers to attend all those calls. There are 134 officers at the detachment. Four new front-line constables and four supervisors will join the force in October.
Dealing with non-urgent calls and freeing up resources for more urgent crimes is a high priority. One avenue is an 18-month pilot project to start next spring that will have an unarmed or civilian staff respond in person to Priority 3 calls.
Part of the detachment’s strategic shift is to ensure the right people are doing the right things at the right time.
A person would go to the victim’s house, collect information from the scene and provide crime prevention and victim services information to the victim.
Dosko said some of the police services, including crime prevention and intelligence gathering, do not have to be carried out by a police officer.
“We’re trying to create the right mix of employees within the detachment to be strategic and to accomplish community safety,” said Dosko. “That’s really our objective — to have a safe community. We want all our police resources focused on making this a safe community.”
Some complaint calls coming into the detachment during the day will no longer be handled by the Southern Alberta Operations Call Centre starting in the fall. Dosko said this will provide a more effective and comprehensive service for the complainant.
All calls currently go through the centre to the RCMP without any management of the complaint. In late October, more calls will go directly to the detachment, allowing the local RCMP to control where each call gets dispatched.
Last year, Sandra Bibby was hired as the city’s first criminal intelligence analyst. Dosko calls this strategic move a success, saying it has led to a decrease in some of the person crimes in the city.
“We have been able to direct our key investigative resources in our general investigative services (GIS) to really deal with our prolific offenders,” he said.
“We know a small percentage of the population commits a large percentage of the crime. If we put the key people in jail, we eliminate a significant amount of crime. The sooner we put them in jail, the more crime we prevent.”