Four RCMP officers are set to to do foot patrols of Red Deer’s downtown, forging relationships with the residents, businesses and agencies of the city’s core.
Besides the start-up of Red Deer’s first dedicated downtown police unit, the RCMP is also adding six new RCMP officers to the local Crime Reduction Team, doubling its number to 12 officers.
This is how the 10 additional police officers, approved at an extra cost of about $1.5 million to the city’s operating budget last January, will be deployed to fight crime.
Red Deer city administrators met with RCMP officials after a Policing Priorities Plan for 2018-19 was approved by council on May 14. The two parties established an allocation for the 10 additional police officers that they thought would best address local needs.
Red Deer RCMP Supt. Ken Foster said the four officers dedicated to the downtown will walk the streets daily and make connections in the community.
“They will get to know the vulnerable people. They will know, care, serve and work with a lot of the social service agencies,” said Foster — since the crux of downtown crime is social problems, which spin into property crimes.
This doesn’t mean that Red Deer’s downtown will only be protected by four officers. Foster said RCMP members from other city units will continue taking turns monitoring the downtown, as well. “We already have an enhanced police presence on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights,” and that will continue.
The six officers who are doubling the Crime Reduction Team will be making Project Pinpoint even more effective, said Foster.
He noted there will be more targeting of perpetual criminals, by serving warrants, doing round-ups, checking curfews and probation terms. The team will also be able to focus more intensely on reducing car thefts and other property crimes.
City councillors unanimously approved this allocation of RCMP resources on Monday. “The downtown is getting a lot of service in this,” said Coun. Frank Wong.
Coun. Vesna Higham noted no policing priorities plan existed when she last served on council, so “this is a very positive step, going forward.”
Mayor Tara Veer said she’s very pleased that RCMP officials are understanding the importance of being able to direct local police service levels to local needs.