Red Deer’s Crime Severity Index (CSI) is higher than Alberta’s other four major cities, recently released Statistics Canada information reveals.
But acting detachment commander RCMP Insp. Heidi Wild said Tuesday that Red Deer is a safe community.
The Crime Severity Index measures the volume and severity of crimes reported to police and is standardized, using the number 100 as the base, for the year 2006. It is calculated using all Criminal Code violations including offences like stolen vehicles, traffic and drug violations, and federal statutes.
Statistics Canada says that CSI weights are based on the violation’s incarceration rate and the average length of prison sentence handed down by criminal courts. The more serious the average sentence, the higher the weight for that offence.
Overall, Alberta saw the biggest percentage increase in the index when compared with the rest of the country.
According to Statistics Canada, the overall CSI for 2015 for Red Deer is 182 (numbers have been rounded off).
This compares with Edmonton at 112, Lethbridge at 109, and Calgary and Medicine Hat both at 77. Alberta’s CSI is 102 and Canada overall is 70.
In terms of percentages, Red Deer did not see as steep an increase in the CSI as the other cities. The increase in the index from 2014 to 2015 for Red Deer was seven per cent, from 170 to 182. In Calgary though it jumped by 29 per cent over the previous year. Medicine Hat was up by 25 per cent and Lethbridge was up 10 per cent.
When looking specifically at violent crime, Statistics Canada shows that index for Red Deer up by almost 24 per cent (146 in 2015 from 118 in 2014). It had actually declined each year from 2012 to 2014, before increasing last year. There were no homicides in 2014. There were two in 2015.
Medicine Hat’s violent crime severity index went up 24 per cent. Lethbridge saw its violent crime CSI go up 13 per cent. Calgary was up by 12 per cent and Edmonton was up nine per cent.
Wild said there’s a number of reasons for crime in every community, be it social, mental health, addictions and more.
“We can’t arrest our way out of these issues. We’re in the corridor as well, between Calgary and Edmonton so we have all the people coming through our community. To some extent that is part of it.
“We always deal with the five percenters in policing. … We deal with a lot of prolific offenders,” Wild said.
“Red Deer’s a safe community. It’s a lovely community. Our detachment’s busy but I’ve also worked in places like Prince George and Penticton (B.C.) where it’s also busy. There’s always going to be crime. We’re never going to eradicate it.”
Wild believes that continuing to work at educating people on crime prevention will help reduce crime, and more crime prevention strategy is going to be unveiled in the near future, she said.
Red Deer has a problem regarding vehicles being stolen, yet she sees people leave their vehicles running all the time, she said.
People should lock their vehicles, not leave keys in them, or things like wallets, purses and chequebooks sitting on the seat. “Criminals want to be able to get their stuff quickly.”
Wild also urges people to get to know their neighbours, know when they’re coming or going, and what vehicles they drive. “Talk to one another. Tell them when you’re going away so that if they see something suspicious, they phone the police.”
She said the public is very supportive of local police — sharing videos and photos, calling in crimes, and reporting suspicious activity. “It’s super important because we can’t be out there all the time.”
Wild also said the priority crimes task force, which partners with neighbouring detachments, has been quite successful and is employing new tactics based on those successes.
Statistics Canada said that the CSI rose in eight of the 13 provinces and territories but the largest increase — 18 per cent — was in Alberta. The next highest was New Brunswick at 12 per cent, followed by Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, both 10 per cent.
Statistics Canada reports that the higher CSI rates were mainly due to more incidents of break and enter, theft of $5,000 or under and motor vehicle theft.