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Crime reduction feedback is positive at Coffee With a Cop sessions, says Red Deer mayor

But Ken Johnston said lack of safety in downtown is still a perception issue for some Red Deerians
Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said he’s heard positive comments about less downtown crime at Coffee with a Cop public feedback sessions. (Advocate file photo.)

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston says he’s heard mostly positive feedback this summer while attending “Coffee With a Cop” sessions with top local RCMP officers.

Public participation appears to be weather dependent, however.

“Perhaps on a warm day in the summer, people don’t want to talk about their problems,” joked Johnston, who feels more community connections were made at the first session, held during a cool day in July at the downtown McDonald’s restaurant, than during the second go-round, which happened in the heat of last Wednesday at a north-side McDonald’s.

Coffee with a Cop sessions were initiated by Red Deer RCMP Insp. Holly Glassford as a way of getting direct feedback from the public on how the police are doing at cracking down on crime in the city.

So far, Johnston, who attended these informal, drop-in sessions with Glassford and other top police officers, said much of the feedback has been positive.

“People really appreciate the downtown (police) patrols and the community policing and they feel they have been doing a better job of enforcement.”

While some Red Deerians told him they still don’t feel safe in the downtown in the evenings, others who reside at the city’s core, say they do not feel imperiled. “It seems to be a matter of perception,” with more people who only venture downtown occasionally expressing safety concerns, he added.

Johnston was pleased to hear many Red Deerians are enjoying the Ross Street Patio and Capstone areas.

People have also commented on the search the city has undertaken for a location for the permanent homeless shelter, with numerous chances for public input.

Johnston said hasn’t heard arguments for or against particular sites, but more of a general understanding that this is an important issue. “They appreciate the community vision… a common theme is that people understand the need for it to go forward. They know that it’s a tough decision for council, but say, ‘Do your best.’”

Council is expected to make a decision on a shelter site on Aug. 29 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the next Coffee with a Cop session is expected to be held in mid-September. Johnston said the time and date will be listed on the city and RCMP websites.

“I think it’s worthwhile. My hope is that the public can see that the RCMP and city council are dedicated to enforcement, safety and good community relations.”

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