Red Deer’s new officer in charge said the Red Deer area has unique challenges when it comes to combating crime as statistics show homicides and offences related to death, property crimes and robberies continue to increase.
“Certainly the economic situation isn’t helping,” said Supt. Ken Foster. “It is a transient area and it’s a population and area where when there’s money, there’s lots of money, but with that comes the social ills and addictions. When there’s no money, the social ills and addictions don’t go away. So they have to be fed somehow, which is sad.”
Foster added a challenge is how to get people off that roller coaster.
“It’s not just a policing issue, it’s not just a health issue, it’s not just an education issue,” he said. “The challenge is that – if you remove a whole bunch of those addiction issues and social issues, you can eliminate an awful lot of crime – not some of the hardcore stuff with the biker gangs and things like that, but you eliminate that and you go a long way in freeing up resources to work on other things.”
Foster said it is a challenge that takes a collaborative approach.
“The upside of that is there is a real appetite here for that. Folks are really interested in getting involved in doing some of that stuff and that is an exciting movement to be part of,” he said. “But these are not fixes that will happen in six months or a year; some of these are generational fixes that take time and a sustained effort.”
On Tuesday, the City of Red Deer released the third quarter crime stats of 2016 which shows that property crimes and robberies continue to drive the overall increase in Criminal Code offenses, while persons crimes remain consistent with last year and traffic collisions decreased in both injury and property damage categories.
“We have seen right across the province there has been an increase in crime. The country this year suffered the first up-tick in the Crime Severity Index with Alberta leading the way,” said Foster. “The increase in property crimes is consistent across the province and beyond, and our Project Pinpoint crime reduction strategy targets those individuals who are responsible for much of that increase in Red Deer. Our focus is on identifying prolific criminals, problem addresses and crime hot spots and putting career offenders before the courts in higher numbers than ever.”
Homicides and offences related to death have increased in 2016 as compared to last year. Between Jan. 1st and Sept 30th, Red Deer saw nine homicides in comparison to five homicides during the same time period in 2015.
As well, break and enters continue to increase over last year. There were 1,038 reported break and enters from Jan. 1st to Sept. 30th this year in comparison to 818 for the same period last year. As well, there has been an increase in theft of motor vehicles. Between the beginning of the year and Sept. 30th, there were 1,003 reported instances as compared to 861 during the same time in 2015.
Meanwhile, Foster said there are things citizens can do to help combat crime.
“Number one, don’t leave your vehicles running unlocked. Get to know your neighbours – understand their habits and patterns and if they’re not around, what’s going on?” he said. “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – simple things like keeping the trees trimmed, making sure windows are locked, or well lit. Keeping debris or garbage away from your house, getting graffiti removed as soon as it happens.
“But most importantly, don’t be afraid to report the stuff. Sometimes success is seeing an increase in reported crime because now we’re getting a better picture. All those reports help us paint a picture of what is going on through analytics and crime mapping and things like that.”