RCMP wants to focus on helping missing youths

Helping chronic missing youth is one of the new strategies in the Red Deer RCMP’s policing plan for 2015-16.

Helping chronic missing youth is one of the new strategies in the Red Deer RCMP’s policing plan for 2015-16.

While the statistics were not available on Monday, police say youth made up a large percentage of the 826 missing persons files in 2014.

Red Deer RCMP Supt. Scott Tod said the youth are not necessarily missing but they may have simply walked away from a group home and returned later that evening.

But police record the youth as a missing person when the call comes into the station.

Over the next year police hope to work with a total 10 youth including five high risk youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years and five chronic missing youth.

“This is about keeping our youth safe,” said Tod. “These are individuals that are (not) safe on the streets. Our concern is that not if something bad might happen, it is when something bad might happen to these high risk kids.”

Tod said they will work with the identified youth to help understand the roots of the issues they face and hopefully develop healthier strategies and coping mechanisms.

“(We’ll) be building relationships with them so we are not seen as the enemy,” said Tod. “That’s one of the biggest things and get a better understanding of what’s driving them to leave and work with them.”

He said they hope to create a relationship where the youth would text or phone them.

“Instead of us spending hours trying to track them down and generating that workload,” he said. “That would be an excellent initiative.”

The Red Deer RCMP presented its annual policing plan (APP) outlining five focus areas at a special news conference on Monday.

The plan outlines objectives including cracking down on organized crime, reducing property and persons property crimes, and contributing to safer roads and keeping youth safe.

The goals and strategies are in addition to the department’s daily and core duties.

Other initiatives in the plan include identifying and monitoring high risk domestic violence offenders and prolific offenders. Police will conduct random and unscheduled visits to identified high risk domestic violence offenders and prolific offenders to ensure they are complying with court conditions.

“In terms of prolific offenders we’re sending a strong message that we watching and to make sure they are complying with their conditions,” said Tod. “There’s a deterrence element but also if they are not compliant, they will obviously be sent back to the courts.”

Tod said they are hoping to provide victims with an increased sense of safety.

A new multi-jurisdictional approach to tackling organized crime is also in the plans. It also in line with the Central Alberta-based Priority Crimes Task Force which is made up of Red Deer RCMP General Investigative Section (GIS), Sylvan Lake, Innisfail and Blackfalds RCMP detachments and the K Division reduction strategies.

“We continue to target prolific offenders in these areas of drug trafficking and property offences,” he said. “This objective is very strongly enforcement oriented.”

After the investigation is completed, police will be assessing the impact and harm imposed to the community. The target for 2015/2016 is to create a baseline to assess the ability to disrupt organized crime networks.

“We will be targeting the people who we think impose the biggest threat,” said Tod. “It will be interesting to look back and say they were either a high or medium or high risk to the community. Next year I am fairly confident this will remain on the table for next year’s APP.”

The policing plan is reflective of the crime statistics and the perceptions of crime survey that was conducted earlier this year.

The top three reported crimes in 2014 were property crimes, motor vehicle collisions and crimes against persons.

The annual policing plan officially rolled out on April 1, 2015 and will run until March 31, 2016.

City council and the public will receive quarterly reports on the progress. The first report will be in June.