Accuracy of crime map questioned by RCMP

Red Deer police are concerned about the accuracy of a website crime map pinpointing hot spots for criminal behaviour in the city.

Red Deer police are concerned about the accuracy of a website crime map pinpointing hot spots for criminal behaviour in the city.

Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre published the map with the 2014 data on at www.cacpc.ca on Aug. 1.

The interactive map, available by clicking on the resources tab at the top of the page, has a disclaimer that it does not list all crimes and relies on RCMP archives from the City of Red Deer, information gathered from community discussions and tips submitted to the centre’s website.

Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Leanne Molzahn said RCMP archives from the City of Red Deer website only contain police press releases and the detachment does not send out a media release on every incident that happens in the city.

“It may be in fact true that something happened in that location if they take it off of one of our press releases. But it certainly doesn’t give an accurate representation of everything that’s taking place,” Molzahn said on Thursday.

She said information gathered from community meetings held this summer or from other conversations, and from website tips, have also not been confirmed by police.

Quarterly RCMP statistics available on the city website at www.reddeer.ca do provide an accurate summary of crime in the city. But locations for the crimes are not included, Molzahn said.

Sarah Cockerill, the city’s director of community services, said the City of Red Deer wasn’t involved in creating the crime map.

“From our perspective, we don’t feel it’s a representation of crime in our community,” Cockerill said.

Emily Falk, Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre program co-ordinator, said the idea behind the map is to inform residents about crimes happening in the city.

Falk said it’s about awareness, but at the same time there’s an educational component to it.

“Instead of being fearful, they can contact the centre for ways to help people to protect themselves from (things like) break-and-enters from vehicles,” said Falk. “Stuff like keeping their valuables out of sight, keeping your car in a lit place to prevent certain things from happening.”

Users can click on markers in any neighbourhood to find information about the crime plotted on the map.

So far this year, for example, the map shows Kentwood has dealt with drug activity and reported drug houses. Police have seized numerous drugs from homes in the area. In Mountview, residents are dealing with graffiti, multiple break-ins, vandalism and some drug activity. And in Riverside Meadows, there’s drug activity, suspicious activity and graffiti.

Falk said the map is a work in progress and they will be updating it as they go. In the meantime, the centre is encouraging residents to report any suspicious behaviour.

“Report it as soon as possible,” she said. “If the police do not know what’s happening in the community, they can’t respond.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com, szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com