Red Deer is making steady progress on reducing crime.
Last year Red Deer dropped to sixth from fifth place on the Crime Severity Index for Canadian communities with a population of 10,000 or more.
Crime Severity Index (CSI) looks at both volume and severity of police-reported crime, and Red Deer’s CSI rose to 221.56 following steady increases since 2013 according to information released by Statistics Canada.
While Red Deer’s CSI is higher than any metropolitan area, Red Deer RCMP Supt. Ken Foster said the city has trended upward at a much slower pace than other cities, or even the province, since Red Deer initiated its Pinpoint Crime Reduction Strategy that helps connect local criminals to crimes being committed in the community.
“I feel very confident that next year we’ll really see the results of this past two years of very dedicated, focused effort at Pinpoint, but there’s so many external factors that we don’t control,” Foster said.
For example, if a new designer drug sweeps through the country, he said.
Second quarter 2018 crime statistics for the city already show a steep decrease in property crime, including break and enters and vehicle thefts.
He said it took time to start to see results from strategies like Pinpoint, but it also took time to get into this situation and the city won’t get out of it overnight either.
“Using our crime analyst to maximum ability really allows us to be extremely efficient and effective in targeting where our police officers need to be, when they need to be, who they’re looking at, and what places they need to be looking at.”
Foster said property crime has been recognized as a major problem in Red Deer and it’s driven by drug addiction and people who steal to support their addictions. About three years ago when the economy took a nose dive, property crime statistics jumped.
“You have a whole bunch of people, who were once upon a time employed, no longer employed but they still have some of the addictions they had when they made lots of money. Those addictions continue. The addiction doesn’t get a layoff slip.”
Targeted projects like warrant round-ups have also helped address crime. New this fall will be a voluntary camera registry to allow citizens to register surveillance video on their property so officers won’t have to go door to door when crime happens. The registry website is currently being built.
Foster encouraged citizens to continue to report crime. More reports make the city’s CSI higher, but data is needed to fight crime. And people need to remember to “lock it or lose it” when it comes to their vehicles.
“If we can just stop that we’d drive our Crime Severity Index down by that alone.”