Allan Seabrooke, Red Deer’s city manager. (Contributed photo).

Crime-reduction input from Red Deer residents is valuable, says city manager

Why can’t police question potential thieves for riding their bikes on sidewalks?

The City of Red Deer should crack down on derelict property owners, expand the role of peace officers, and make bylaws more enforceable, citizens have said at a series of crime-focused open houses.

City manager Allan Seabrooke said administration will be exploring all suggestions made by Red Deerians once the six open houses on crime and community safety wind down Friday.

He feels the two-way dialogue he’s heard at the first four forums is valuable. As well as citizens sharing ideas of what they can do to try and prevent crime, the city is getting a good handle on what some people think are need-to-improve areas for the municipality, said Seabrooke.

Some Red Deerians have suggested the city needs stricter community standards bylaws around derelict properties that are left empty and decaying, to prevent squatters from moving in or using the buildings for drug activities.

“They think we should be going further than we do” — to make property owners take responsibility for the state of their buildings, said Seabrooke.

Others have suggested that police officers would have legal ground to stop and question potential thieves on bicycles, who criss-cross the city at night possibly carrying stolen goods in bike trailers, if they enforced the city’s no-bikes-on-sidewalks bylaw.

Forums off to a good start

Seabrooke also heard suggestions that the roles of peace officers should be expanded so they can be of greater assistance to RCMP.

The city will explore what’s possible around this. Seabrooke said peace officers can deal with mischief and vandalism cases, as well as traffic violations, but not stolen vehicles, which fall under the Criminal Code.

He’s encouraged by the participation in the open houses, so far, since 50 to 60 people have attended most of the forums. They will continue tonight at 6 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School and Friday at 10 a.m. at the Radisson Hotel.

Seabrooke believes the additional benefit is these discussions are making Red Deerians more aware of registering their bikes and other actions they can take to reduce opportunities for crime.

Even getting to know neighbours and telling them when their garage door is left open, for example, can be a big help, he added.

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