Red Deer has fallen to No. 5 from No. 2 in the National Crime Index comparing similar-sized cities in Canada, said the city’s RCMP superintendent Ken Foster.
According to the latest Statistics Canada data Foster received this week, this city stands at No. 4 for non-violent crime and No. 14 for violent crime, achieving an overall ranking of No. 5 on a list of comparable cities in Canada.
While Foster is encouraged that Red Deer’s latest crime rate, as measured by Statistics Canada for 2016, dropped somewhat from the previous year, Foster was not surprised that property crimes still remain a big local concern.
Many people in the city lost their jobs, but their addictions “did not receive lay-off notices,” said Foster, who knows drug problems are fuelling most of this city’s property crimes.
Red Deer RCMP will maintain a strong focus on drug crime, but with Red Deer’s high rate of break-ins and car thefts, officers will also pay more attention to responding to victims of property crimes and to high-risk youths, said Foster.
No extra resources are being provided, so the city’s 160 officers will have to readjust some of their workload in accordance with new priorities outlined Thursday in the annual policing plan:
l Reducing property crimes through targeting habitual offenders and developing public education campaigns.
l Preventing youth crimes by focusing on finding missing young people and “increasing engagement” with youths.
l Building and maintaining positive relations with “partners” in the community, including the newly formed Protective Services Division, and social service agencies.
l Increasing communications with downtown stakeholders, and increasing RCMP presence in the downtown.
l Building and maintaining quality service, with an increased police response to property crime victims.
Foster said some measures used to achieve better outcomes are developing surveillance camera registries, setting proactive property crime enforcement targets, and increasing police outreach to social agencies in the downtown.
Although police will continue to crack down on violent crime, Foster set some new targets for improving police service to the public. These include boosting the number of police call-backs to victims by 10 per cent, and aiming for a 90 per cent police attendance rate at all break and enters.
Paul Goranson, director of the newly formed Protective Services Division, which brings together RCMP, emergency services and fire, said a closer relationship between the City and police is important, since crime continues to be a top priority for Red Deer residents — as identified in a recent Ipsos quality of life survey (see sidebar).