Red Deer RCMP have ramped up patrols in the City’s downtown after a successful pilot project last summer.
“Shortly after my arrival I heard a lot about the downtown and I spent time wandering around on my own and I knew we needed to put some people down there. I can see where people have some concerns. I can’t do that 24/7, 365 (days a year), but every day of the week through the day for visibility and through the evening for interdiction I have people patrolling down there on foot or if the officer is trained, they can take bicycles as well,” said Supt. Ken Foster, officer in charge of the Red Deer RCMP.
“It’s really amazing, in fact just last (week) they came along a big crowd and a big ruckus going on and nothing had been called in and it turned out some people had been beat up, robbed and one had been stabbed. They have recovered quite a number of stolen vehicles downtown and people with warrants so we are having some success there on the crime front and also on the public perception front.”
Foster was appointed to his position in October, following the Enhanced Downtown Pilot Project which took place last summer, and he said upon his arrival he heard loud and clear from downtown businesses and the community, as well as City council, that more attention needed to be given to the area from a police perspective.
“I wanted presence there through the day which helps folks certainly feel secure when they see the police there, but also the patrons of downtown and the business owners to interact with our officers on a personal level and get to know one another to some degree and to help understand the challenges on both sides in dealing with a lot of the issues downtown which in fact are social issues, not criminal issues,” he said. “We do have a daily presence in the downtown and we direct those patrols based on hot spots and the crime stats.
“Based on that I felt like there was enough call volume in the downtown that we could dedicate some people to foot patrols and they can respond to some of those calls while they are doing their work, but their primary focus is to interact with the public, try to get to know people, gather information, and direct some of those people who need social assistance to agencies that can best help them.”
There is also a police presence in the downtown core in the evening and in the early morning hours as well.
“I wanted patrols in the nighttime hours for more of the interdiction of crime,” he said. “We do have a lot of calls for service in the area and our officers are also encouraged to, while they are transiting back and forth to their various calls, plan their routes through areas that are problematic like the downtown or industrial areas that are being hit by crime.”
Foster added more police presence is important in the downtown, but it is also resource-intensive on the force as well.
“We are a busy City with lots on the go,” he said. “I believe it is important that the police are responsive to the needs of the community and the desires and concerns, understanding that as soon as you dedicate resources to one area, you’ll feel pressures in another area of course.”
Meanwhile, Foster said the feedback from business owners in the downtown and from council has been positive.
“They are noticing a presence. Could it be more? Absolutely, but that requires resources.”