Red Deer’s reputation as a high-crime city isn’t fair, says the community’s new RCMP superintendent.
Last year, a Maclean’s magazine report said Red Deer crime had grown worse, based on a 2017 crime severity index and figures from five years ago. That prompted the publication to call Red Deer one of Canada’s most dangerous cities.
Supt. Gerald Grobmeier, who was named officer in charge of Red Deer RCMP last week, said recent crime statistics tell a different story.
Final quarter crime statistics for 2018 show Criminal Code files decreased by 23 per cent, crimes against persons fell by seven per cent, and property offences dropped 28 per cent.
“We were able to reduce property crime 28 per cent across the board in the city of Red Deer, which are astonishing numbers. Usually, you don’t reduce crime in double digits,” said Grobmeier on Wednesday.
“We had fantastic results in 2018 showing. We should be off Maclean’s radar for awhile. It’s just about changing that narrative in the city.”
He also took issue with Maclean’s definition of dangerous. Assaults on Red Deer streets are rarely between strangers. And crimes against persons have always been relatively low, said Grobmeier.
“You can walk the streets of Red Deer and not be assaulted. The streets are safe. People might feel uncomfortable with who they run into downtown, but the streets are safe.”
He said the city does have a problem with property theft, and it can be disconcerting to have a vehicle stolen, but that’s not usually a safety issue.
“We still have work to do here in Red Deer, but in 2018, we had a very good year in reducing crime.”
Grobmeier said since he arrived in Red Deer in 2015, he has worked toward proactive policing, instead of the traditional model of community policing, by building relationships with young people through the detachment’s youth intervention unit and new downtown unit.
“(Downtown officers) are strictly downtown, so they have the time to make those relationships, not just with (business), but the people who are downtown, some of these people who are extremely high risk, living on the streets.”