Red Deer still grappling with high crime rate compared to similar-sized communities

The good news is that severe and violent crime rates are falling in Red Deer — and more local crimes are being resolved by police.

The good news is that severe and violent crime rates are falling in Red Deer — and more local crimes are being resolved by police.

The bad news is that Red Deer is still grappling with a much higher crime rate than similar-sized communities, such as Lethbridge.

These conclusions can be extrapolated from Statistics Canada’s latest Crime Severity Index and police clearance rates.

According to a composite, aggregate index that was calculated based on an analysis of police crime reports, severe crimes in Red Deer dropped for the first time in 2013 after rising steadily between 2009 and 2012. There was a 3.5 per cent drop in the severe crime index in a year, from 2012 to 2013.

Violent crimes over the same four-year period fluctuated, then fell sharply by almost 18 per cent between 2012 and 2013.

Only non-violent property crimes went up — the index shows a one per cent increase in that same one-year period.

Also on the positive front, local RCMP appear to be resolving more of the reported crimes.

About two per cent more overall crimes, 9.6 per cent more of violent crime and 4.5 per cent more of non-violent crimes were cleared by police in 2013 compared to 2012.

While this all seems pretty rosy, comparisons of Red Deer’s crime figures to national statistics and to cities like Lethbridge, with a similar population, are an eye-opener.

With some 90,000 residents, Lethbridge has an overall crime severity index of 77.02. While Red Deer’s population is now nearly 99,000, our crime index was calculated to be more than double that at 156.79. Comparatively, Canada’s national crime severity index is 68.72.

“We take crime rates for different jurisdictions … we look at murders and robberies (etc.) and assign different weights to different crimes to calculate the index” — the higher the number, the worse is the crime rate, said Leonid Shafir, data dissemination officer for Statistics Canada.

Red Deer’s violent crime index is 122.18, also much higher than Lethbridge’s 71.79 and the national rate of 73.7.

Our non-violent (property) crime index also looms much higher at 169.06, compared to Lethbridge’s 78.76 and Canada’s rate of 66.76.

While an RCMP spokesman was not available for comment late on Friday, police previously stated that Red Deer’s Hwy 2 location makes this city’s crime rates more comparable to larger centres, such as Calgary and Edmonton, rather than other cities of our size that aren’t on a major traffic corridor.