City council unanimously agreed to explore the concept of crime mapping as an “element of the overall Safety Strategy” during the regular meeting Monday.
Councillor Buck Buchanan had originally brought forward the notice of motion for crime mapping, which council notes showed various cities across the country – including Saskatoon, Regina, St. Albert, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge – have been successful with in their respective communities.
Crime maps allow law enforcement to identify trouble areas so they can schedule additional patrols and focus resources in the given part of a municipality.
City manager comments noted that, “Essentially, the major benefit is to increase public awareness and community knowledge of where crime is occurring. On the negative side, the mapping of a spike in crime in a neighbourhood can lead to spatial labeling, resulting in insurance rates and property values affected.”
RCMP Supt. Scott Tod told council that crime mapping was essentially already being done in Red Deer, but just wasn’t at this time accessible to the public.
“It can have the tendency to focus on policing and not the root cause of behavior,” he said.
“It is a tool to share information and create community awareness.”
Tod added that there should be clearly identified outcomes to crime mapping as well, because there are risks to, “Simply releasing data out of context and incorrectly stigmatizing portions of the community resulting in unintended consequences.”
However, he did describe it as an effective tool in investigation.
“It’s important to remember that these maps need to be updated regularly to be effective in terms of crime prevention.”
Ultimately, Tod, who said he’s not opposed to crime mapping, also pointed out that it’s not simply about a crime issue, it’s about social issues.
“A lot of people have to come to the table to address this.”
Buchanan said he felt that a good fit would be including the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre in further examining the concept.
“I happy that at least it’s going in the right direction. It is in our dialogue charter, it is in our safety charter – this is the right thing to do.”
Councillor Dianne Wyntjes added that it’s one tool in adding to, “Our safety lens and how we can create a better City.”
Council approved the proposed resolution that read, in part, that the City would collaborate with the RCMP and the Community Safety Ad Hoc Committee to explore the crime mapping concept.