The new four-member downtown policing unit was introduced Nov. 1st during a press conference in the downtown core. The four officers officially started their duties that same day as well. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: New downtown four-member policing unit officially on duty

Officials say unit will build on an already bolstered police presence downtown

Red Deer RCMP announced the new downtown four-member policing unit in the heart of downtown Red Deer.

The unit officially began their downtown duties on Nov. 1st, augmenting a number of other downtown initiatives undertaken by RCMP and the City this year, officials say.

“This has been a day that we have all been looking forward to, the day our new downtown policing unit hits the streets,” said Red Deer RCMP Supt. Ken Foster.

The City has approved 10 new officers in this year’s budget, four of which were slated to be part of the downtown unit.

“The decision to allocate the officers to the downtown unit was made in consultation with the City after an extensive community consultation in connection with setting the new annual policing goals,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say we are all very pleased to launch this unit.”

Since Jan. 1st of this year, Foster said RCMP have already significantly bolstered police presence in the downtown.

“Since January 1st, Red Deer police officers in the downtown have also attended 783 businesses, made 113 arrests, executed 168 warrants and laid 108 new charges.

“Our officers have also conducted 133 compliance checks on targeted offenders in the downtown area,” he said. “The downtown unit will augment the work that is already being done providing even more police presence here, and allowing us the opportunity to create deeper relationships with downtown businesses, residents and patrons,” he said.

“Downtown Red Deer is filled with charming and unique businesses. The RCMP have been a visible presence and will be a greater visible presence here with our dual focuses on crime reduction and on increased feelings of safety so citizens can feel more fully enjoy these beautiful downtown spaces,” he said.

Red Deer RCMP Insp. Dean LaGrange will head up the new unit.

“The mandate of this new unit is to build relationships with the businesses in the downtown core, be highly visible, interact with citizens, and develop intimate knowledge of trouble spots and areas of concern that are brought to them by the citizens and the business owners of the downtown core.”

LaGrange said unit members will be on foot, on bikes and segways and vehicles as well.

“They will be easy to approach and engage with,” he added.

Mayor Tara Veer said that the City has recognized that residents have been increasingly concerned about safety in the downtown area.

“This came through loud and clear in the community engagement and outreach that we did for our annual policing plan earlier this year. As a result, the downtown was identified as a priority area in the annual policing plan for the next two years,” she said.

This past January, as mentioned, 10 new police members were approved earlier this year, she said.

“With support from the crime reduction team, this unit will focus exclusively on the downtown core. They will patrol the downtown, and also build relationships with the people who live in, work in and also build our downtown.

“We are taking community concerns for safety seriously.”