Red Deer is not out of the woods in terms of dealing with rising crime if the latest numbers from Statistics Canada are any indication.
Our city’s Crime Severity Index (CSI) in 2017 went up to 221.56 from 211.12 in 2016, according to recently released figures from StatsCan.
Elsewhere, other top-ranking cities like Langley, Williams Lake and Vernon, BC, as well as Prince Albert, SK, all saw their indices drop.
Red Deer RCMP Superintendent Ken Foster says he’s not surprised by the numbers, but points out they are trending downward from a few years ago.
“In 2015 we were number two, in 2016 we were number five and in 2017 at number six,” says Foster. “I expect for 2018 we’ll see quite a difference, simply because we’re now starting to see the fruits of our labour of our aggressive crime reduction strategy that we started in April of 2016 and targeting those very prolific and habitual offenders and being more efficient and effective with the use of our crime analyst.”
He says they knew it would take 18-24 months before seeing the results of those refined efforts on paper.
“It was about December of 2017 when we really started to see our crime rates for property crimes drop,” Foster says. “It takes time to get intelligence, it takes time to get people charged, it takes time to get people through the court system before they get either incarcerated or conditions that we can enforce to keep a close eye on them. So that’s pretty much what we predicted and it’s holding true thus far.”
He says Crime Severity Index numbers are largely driven by property crimes.
“Property crimes are driven primarily by drug addictions,” he explains. “I’m very happy to say that our Violent Crime Severity Index, I think it’s 18, is much lower than certainly the property crimes which is much higher, which drives our Crime Severity Index to be number six in the country. In response to the Maclean’s article which talks about ‘Dangerous Cities’, ‘dangerous’ is a great media line but I don’t believe Red Deer to be a dangerous city.”
Having said that, Foster adds it’s important to take precautions in helping to prevent yourself from being a victim of crime or creating opportunities for would-be criminals.
“You know, not walking in areas of low lighting or going down a dark alley in the middle of the night, that’s no different for any community” he says. “Many of these thefts from motor vehicles could be prevented if people just locked them or didn’t leave their keys in them or their wallet in plain sight or a couple of dollars-worth of change. A lot of break and enters we get to garages and sheds, well they’re insecure and the doors are left unlocked or open and that’s pretty hard to stop that sort of crime.”
Last month, The City of Red Deer released its latest crime statistics, which suggest a downward trend.
Second quarter numbers for 2018 show break and enters lessened by 27 per cent, while motor vehicle thefts are down 46 per cent to the lowest total in five years.
The City and RCMP also shared that total property crimes are down 41 per cent, a five-year low as well, and persons crimes are down 33 per cent.
“For the first half of 2018, our crime stats have showed a 33 per cent decrease in robberies compared to 2017,” states Foster. “Our property crimes have come down significantly. In the same period last year, we had 760 break and enters, this year we had 552 up to the end of July.”
“For the same period last year, we had 748 stolen vehicles,” Foster continues. “That was 402 for this year. That’s a 46 per cent decrease of theft of vehicles in Red Deer and that’s the lowest numbers we’ve seen over the last five years.”
Foster says the main thing he wants to emphasize is for residents to continue reporting all crimes and suspicious activity.
“It’s the only way our analysts can get the full picture of what’s going on,” he says. “That may drive the Crime Severity Index up but it might be a positive number in fact because the public is engaged and the public are actually reporting crime. I do predict our number will be significantly lower next year and hopefully out of the top ten and we won’t have this conversation.”
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