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Red Deer RCMP unveils 2024-26 Policing Plan

RCMP to focus on persons crimes and continue downtown and trail patrols
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Red Deer City RCMP Supt. Holly Glassford presented policing plan priorities for 2024-2026 to city council on Tuesday. (Advocate file photo.)

Red Deer RCMP made a “lot of headway” in its fight against property crime last year and hopes to repeat that success as officers tackle assaults, robberies and other persons crimes this year, Supt. Holly Glassford told city council on Tuesday.

“We decreased the property crime (and) we want to focus again on decreasing persons crime and the number of victims of persons crime in the community,” said Glassford.

RCMP statistics show that in 2023 break and enters were down 15 per cent from the previous year (870 from 1,026), vehicle thefts were down 22 per cent (676 from 865) and possession of stolen good cases down 19 per cent (303 from 374). The number of thefts under $5,000 and over $5,000 were down slightly to 4,007 from 4,131 in 2022 — a two per cent difference.

The Policing Plan approved by city council on Tuesday lists three priorities: intelligence-led police response, police visibility and public safety, and community engagement and partnerships.

The city and RCMP developed the plan through public consultations carried out in January and February. Targeted focus groups and a public survey were used to gather input from the community about their experiences and feelings of safety in Red Deer. Feedback was analyzed and then combined with local crime data and trends to set policing priorities.

“Priorities will address issues like street-level drug trafficking and use, persons and property crime, enhancing trail and road safety, increasing strategic relationships with criminal justice partners and continuing to connect with the community to ensure resiliency,” said the city in a news release.

Among the new initiatives is the Virtual Opioid Dependency Program, which will pair two RCMP officers with a pair of paramedics. Through the initiative being developed with Alberta Health Services, the teams will make proactive patrols to identify those needing help and directing them to treatment programs.

RCMP are also continuing efforts to boost Police and Crisis Teams (PACT). Started in 2018, the number of PACT teams, comprised of an RCMP officer and a nurse, was boosted to four from two last year.

Collaboration will continue with the social diversion team, which is made up of specially-trained professionals who provide front-line assessment, intervention and support and can be reached by calling 211.

The policing plan also calls for an increased focus on community response from the Downtown Patrol Unit, which includes peace officers given additional authority to investigate Criminal Code offences such as theft and mischief under $5,000.

Glassford said local business owners reporting the crime they see is key to the unit’s success.

“Being strategic in that downtown core and forming those partnerships is crucial to be able to provide the best policing approach.”

On the community engagement and partnerships front, a new initiative will see the appointment of a diversity co-ordinator and the creation of an Officer In Charge Advisor Committee to provide advice to Glassford.

“I need some help. I don’t have all the answers so I look to the community to assist,” said Glassford.

Volunteers will be drawn from the community to join the committee that will likely meet once a month at the detachment and advise the RCMP’s leadership team.

“It’s an opportunity to again provide that expertise from a different lens of diversity, inclusion and equity to the policing service.”

One of the ways that the RCMP will meet its police visibility and public safety priority is to continue actively patrolling the city’s trail network, which includes the use of an ATV, a recurring community request.

“We heard from Red Deerians that they wanted to feel safer on the trail system,” she said. A supervisor has been designated to ensure that trail patrols are being scheduled.

Glassford said an important goal will also be to continue to building relationships with community organizations and look for other potential collaborations.

Mayor Ken Johnston said the city’s crime statistics have improved and the RCMP’s strategic approach can be given a lot of credit.

“It’s also a very responsive approach. They’ve gone into the community. They’ve listened (and) adapted.

“I’m certainly overjoyed and remain confident that our RCMP are proactive in problem solving, not reactive in problem solving and I think that’s what makes our relationship so special.”