Red Deer to explore crime mapping

Red Deer’s criminal hot spots and trends will soon be revealed online. Council voted 8-0 to explore “crime mapping” as tool in the city’s overall safety strategy on Monday.

Red Deer’s criminal hot spots and trends will soon be revealed online.

Council voted 8-0 to explore “crime mapping” as tool in the city’s overall safety strategy on Monday.

The city will collaborate with the police and the newly created Community Safety ad hoc committee on the project.

Red Deer RCMP Supt. Scott Tod told council that the police currently use mapping in various ways to fight crime. He said the police have the ability to roll out a public map with its inhouse crime analyst and support from K Division.

“I am certainly not opposed to crime mapping,” he told council. “It could be as simple or as complex as you desire. Of course complex it becomes the more analytical it becomes and more it drains our resources to produce these maps.”

Tod said they want to stay away from creating something that asks more questions than answers and requires significant interpretation and clarification. In the coming months, there will be further discussion on the scope of the map including whether the city will be broken into zones or in half and the types of crimes mapped.

Tod said the benefits would be community awareness and engagement to address what he called “preventable crimes” such as like break and enters and theft. He said not every single crime would be mapped such as domestic violence.

“The data is there,” said Tod. “It’s a matter of the expectation.”

He said maps are investigative tools that should be updated regularly to be effective.

Coun. Buck Buchanan, who brought the motion to the floor, said he was pleased that a crime map will see the light of day in Red Deer. Buchanan said this is not new and it is not new to policing.

He said it is about awareness in the neighbourhood and community.

“It is information,” said Buchanan. “It is in our dialogue charter. It is in our safety charter. This is the right thing to do.”

Both Buchanan and Coun. Ken Johnston were disappointed that the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre was not named specifically in the motion.

Council heard that the centre is a major stakeholder and will likely be involved in the discussions as will other agencies throughout the process.

“The (Central Alberta) Crime Prevention Centre has worked extremely hard with community associations and resurrecting community around safety issues,” said Johnston, who sits on the Community Safety ad hoc committee. “I think it is a shame they are not directly involved in the work. It is time for the community associations in our community to understand that they have an influence on safety. And statistically this will give them influence on safety.”

Councillors said a crime map is one tool in a very complex tool box how community of how policing and safety in our community should be addressed.

There was some discussion on what to call the “crime’” map. Some councillors liked the idea of calling it something like ‘social mapping.’

The RCMP currently has one criminal analyst on the payroll and there are plans to hire two more. The analysts would ultimately work on the maps.

Tod said the RCMP would initially receive some assistance from the operations strategy branch out of K Division because they have the software.

“Part of council’s work plan in 2015 is local policing priorities and standards,” said Mayor Tara Veer, noting council had a workshop in February.

“Now crime mapping will form a part of that bigger plan which will likely come back to council depending on the pilot on Priority 3 calls will be spring or summer.”

In other council news:

—Three new members were added to the Community Safety Ad Hoc Committee filling the 11-person roster. Named were Steve Bontje, Archana Chaudhary and Kathy Liddell. Council also directed the committee to use the Red Deer Alcohol and Drug Strategy as a tool in its workplan. While the strategy was adopted in late November, a component related to the ad hoc committee was tabled until the role of the new committee was solidified. As part of its mandate, the committee will build a strategic plan for crime prevention and community safety.

— Council adopted a new fees and charges policy for all city services.

Mayor Tara Veer said council considers fees and charges every year during budget debate without a strong foundation and rationale for making decisions. She said the new policy will bring consistency, fairness, equity and competitiveness. The city will be reviewing all the fees and charges at the city in the coming years.

The policy has been two years in the making.

— Licensing processes at City Hall are about to be streamlined.

Council gave first reading to five licensing bylaw related amendments for escort services, limousine and sedan and taxi business. The amendments include changing the licence terms to a calendar year (Jan.1 to Dec.31) from an annual basis and introducing pro-rated licences based on a monthly rate for new applicants.

Second and third readings are slated for the March 30th meeting.

— Council approved a 2.75 per cent salary increase for management and exempt staff.

The increase affects 140 exempt employees including directors, managers, superintendents, supervisors, professionals and specialists.

Kristy Svoboda, Human Resources director said the city reviews and adjusts its management salaries on an annual basis to ensure it remains competitive with other comparable municipalities and related organizations.

“Consideration is also given to how other city staff’s compensation has been adjusted,” said Svoboda. “It is a balance, and an important investment in leadership that ensures we can continue to attract and retain qualified management staff to serve the public well.”

The 2.75 per cent adjustment is effective January 1, 2015.

Coun. Paul Harris was absent.