Property and drug crimes have decreased in Red Deer over the last quarter, while gains were made in litter and vandalism clean-ups in the downtown.
Supt. Holly Glassford presented an optimistic the third quarter policing report to Red Deer city council on Monday, delivering good news on several fronts.
Glassford noted property crimes dropped by 20 per cent from October to December 2022, over the same period in 2021.
At the same time, there were 86 fewer vehicle thefts in the third quarter than a year previously, resulting in a nearly 35 per cent decline. And drug trafficking crime were down drastically, by 61 per cent. Glassford told council this was because several long-term investigations had paid off.
Meanwhile, extortions were trending upwards, increasing by 300 per cent from the third quarter of 2021, because more frauds that were largely perpetrated against seniors, were reported, said Glassford.
She told city council that efforts were underway to increase the successful Police and Crisis Team (PACT) in Red Deer.
Currently, there are two teams, made up of a nurse paired with a police officer. They are called to deal with social or mental health crises. Glassford said she has additional officers lined up to double the local PACT teams to four this year. “We just need more psychiatric nurses.”
Several city councillors commended local police officers for sending crime going in the right direction. “Our community owes you a debt of gratitude,” summarized Mayor Ken Johnston.
Meanwhile, city council also heard favourable news about the Clean Team, and other mitigation strategies that have been undertaken to minimize negative impacts associated with the temporary homeless shelter, now operating in the former Cannery Row bingo site north of Superstore.
In the year since mitigation strategies were approved and implemented to reduce garbage and debris, support businesses experiencing vandalism, and support the shelter with design improvements, progress has been made on all fronts, said Kristin Walsh, the city’s manager of Safe and Healthy Communities.
Overnight security patrols were stepped up within 400 metres of the shelter, RCMP downtown patrols were expanded and, there was the implementation of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design recommendations.
A community liaison person was also hired through the Downtown Business Association, which also distributed city grants to help with vandalism and graffiti cleanup.
Walsh said loitering/disturbances were the biggest concern expressed by downtown businesses. The greatest help cited was the Clean Team’s debris pickup and RCMP patrols.
An efficiency evaluation gave high grades for the graffiti and vandalism grants and the city’s elimination of business licence fees for impacts businesses in the Rail Lands. Good feedback was also received for enhanced litter and needle clean up, additional lighting and fencing at Cannery Row, and overnight security in the Rail Lands and the community liaison.
Walsh told council the Clean Team picked up 2,220 needles in 2022 and 35,250 lbs of litter. She recommended expanding the eligibility of graffiti removal grants to allow more people to benefit.
“Homelessness is not going away, despite our many efforts, we are seeing it trending in the wrong direction,” she added.