Businesses are pulling together to address crime against downtown shops.
A meeting Tuesday morning at The Bistro on Gaetz attracted about 18 business and city representatives who came out to hear from RCMP and talk strategies.
Bistro owner Jean Cadorette, who was waiting for an update on the investigation into the break-in and theft at his cafe in December, said he hasn’t had any recent problems and was happy to find out what RCMP were doing with their resources.
“Obviously they’re stretched a little thin from what we’re hearing so it’s up to council to maybe up their budget to have more policing,” Cadorette said after the meeting.
He said the people need to be informed about crime, but at the same time it might deter them from coming downtown which would hurt businesses.
Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer, owner of Comforts the Sole, said she liked the idea of developing a website or system to keep downtown businesses informed about recent criminal activity.
She was surprised to find out there were 11 similar break-ins in about the last three months.
“That was a revelation for us. We need to ban together, share our information, look after each other just like Neighbourhood Watch, and report, report, report. It’s really important that’s drilled home,” Watkinson-Zimmer said.
RCMP Supt. Ken Foster said RCMP are looking to do more but a lot of it is dependent on resources and the city is just beginning its 2018 operational budget debate.
“We have a high call volume. Our folks are primarily going from complaint to complaint to complaint,” Foster said.
He said in the downtown police are working proactively with enhanced patrols and are driving through the area more often to deter crime. He was confident police were moving in the right direction with a crime reduction strategy targeting prolific and habitual offenders.
“We do that by using very advanced analytics and the co-operation of the public calling in those complaints so we can utilize that data to draw the picture of the who, what, where, why and when. That’s how we strategically and effectively try to combat crime,” Foster said.
“Crime is a community issue. Police can’t solve it on their own and businesses can’t solve it on their own. It’s a collaborative effort. We’re all in this together.”
Amanda Gould, executive director with Red Deer Downtown Business Association, said she was encouraged by what she heard at the meeting.
“I saw a group of people and the RCMP and the (City of Red Deer) committed to working together to make our city a safer place,” Gould said.
She wanted to remind businesses that the DBA has a program to help subsidize the cost of their crime prevention efforts.