City proactive when it comes to safety concerns

Thank you for the opportunity to submit a monthly column for the Red Deer Advocate.

Over the course of the year, I hope to address various issues the citizens of Red Deer raise with City Council throughout our conversations in the community.

Red Deerians continue to consistently identify crime and public safety as their number one priority for City Council and the city to address.

Over the past few years, council, The city through municipal policing operations, and the RCMP have adopted and implemented various strategies to respond to what has been an escalation of public concerns for safety.

In addition to the above, council gave two approvals this week that will no doubt be of significant interest to our citizens:

Policing Governance and Service Review: A “Policing Governance Review” is, in short, an exploration of “who” delivers police services in Red Deer, such as the RCMP, the city, or some continuing combination of the two (as is our current model).

A “service review” will consider “what” scope of services are provided by local police and “how” established or new services are delivered.

While there are many different nuances to how council, city staff, the RCMP and the public may interpret all of the above, the governance review will essentially provide council with key information necessary to responsibly chart our course in policing for the next decade.

The last time council studied policing substantially was in 2003/2004 with an update in 2011.

Given Red Deer’s elevated role as a regional hub city, as Alberta’s central city on the QE2 corridor and positioning for Western Canadian trade and distribution, in addition to highly challenging economic conditions and social complexities that Alberta cities in particular are faced with, it is incumbent on council to responsibly review the effectiveness of the policing services delivered through our $37 million dollar local policing budget ($25 million of which is allocated to the RCMP and $12 million, which is designated for municipal police services).

We need to ensure our model and scope of policing services are meeting the needs of Red Deerians.

2018/2019 Annual Policing Plan:

I have often commented that part of the systemic challenge of policing is Red Deer historically was the fact that the city had not fully exercised the provisions in our partnership agreement with the RCMP to determine local enforcement priorities and service levels. In my view, this has polarized the debate regarding policing in Red Deer, fuelling the speculation that the local RCMP detachment responds to Ottawa, and not to the local enforcement needs of our community.

In recent years, however, the city has worked with the RCMP to identify the Annual Policing Plan local enforcement priorities, with this year marking an important step in the development of the new policing priorities by initiating a formal consultation with Red Deerians.

In response to the input of our citizens, Council subsequently adopted our local enforcement priorities for 2018/2019 as follows:

Drug and Property Crime Enforcement

Downtown Safety

Quality of Service and Responsiveness

This week, as part of the strategy in actioning the established priorities, the city allocated the 10 new RCMP officers to the Crime Reduction Team and Downtown Core task forces.

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions until next month.

As always, council thanks you for the ongoing opportunity to represent you. We look forward to seeing you all in the near future and hearing about what is important to citizens in our community.

Until next time …

Mayor Tara Veer

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