Police solving more crimes, Simpson agrees

Red Deer RCMP’s top cop concurs with a national report showing that Canadian police officers are solving more crimes than ever.

Supt. Brian Simpson

Supt. Brian Simpson

Red Deer RCMP’s top cop concurs with a national report showing that Canadian police officers are solving more crimes than ever.

Supt. Brian Simpson was commenting on a recent Statistics Canada survey that shows the 2009 national weighted clearance rate rose to 38.4 per cent, the fifth consecutive annual increase. In 2004, the percentage was 33.7.

The clearance rate represents the proportion of crimes that are solved by police.

“More police officers equates to more crimes being solved and that’s the reality of the world,” Simpson said.

“Ideally, you’d like 100 per cent solve rate, but the reality is it’s considerably less than that. With more resources, you have the ability to be proactive, less reactive.”

The survey collected data on police personnel as of May 15, 2010, and expenditures for the calendar year ending Dec. 31, 2009, from each police service in Canada, including the RCMP.

Red Deer was not featured in the report.

The report revealed that police officer strength has been increasing, but the volume and severity of police-reported crime have been declining, according to data obtained by Canada’s 30 largest municipal police services.

Both the 2009 police-reported crime rate and the Crime Severity Index, which tracks changes in the severity of crime, decreased from the previous year, in keeping with a general trend observed over the past decade.

A recently released community report called Vital Signs also showed Red Deer having 1.23 officers per 1,000 residents in 2009, 38.5 per cent lower than the national average of 2.00. The StatsCan report indicates that police officer strength has been its highest point since 1981. Nationally, there were an average of 203 police officers per 100,000 population in 2010.

These numbers are growing in part because of population growth, so it’s important to put this in perspective as well, Simpson added.

Simpson wouldn’t say whether he’ll be seeking more officers from the City of Red Deer’s 2011 operational budget.

“We’re in the budget process, so it wouldn’t be prudent to discuss it right now,” he said.

Simpson said policing has become a lot more complex, in terms of not only officer involvement but the amount of training that they must have to handle criminal investigations.

“The number of officers it takes, the time it takes to do investigations from 10 years ago has increased exponentially,” Simpson added.

The StatsCan study also points out the number of female officers is steadily increasing. As in previous years, this proportion has increased at a faster pace (four per cent) than male counterparts (three per cent). Simpson believes a little over one-third of his officers are female.

“I don’t look at it as female, male or ethnic backgrounds,” he added. “I just see them as officers with the skill sets to do the training.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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