Crime-reduction strategy seems to be working

Provincially, but not so much locally

Leader staff

If the first six months of 2018 are anything to go by, Alberta’s new crime-reduction strategy is working. Figures released last week by the RCMP show a decrease across the board in various categories of crime, compared to the same period last year.

However, the reduction hasn’t shown up in the stats of the RCMP detachment in Slave Lake. According to Staff Sgt. John Spaans, “As of July 2018 we have had a total of 1,200 Criminal Code calls, compared to 1,160 in July 2017. Mischief and theft under $5,000 account for the greatest increases.”

Spaans also says it is “important to note that the statistics provided in the provincial media release reflect the overall crime trend in Alberta. There are pockets where the numbers have increased, such as Slave Lake.”

But the provincial trend seems encouraging. For example: 658 fewer motor vehicle thefts, 366 fewer break-ins and 2,358 fewer thefts. The good news was announced in Airdrie last week by the RCMP, along with Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley and Dean Hart of Rural Crime Watch.

The crime reduction strategy – supported by an $8 million provincial investment – includes enhanced intelligence and information sharing and an increased focus on repeat offenders. Part of it also involves a reduction in “administrative burdens” on officers, allowing them more time to do investigations. Along with that has been the establishment of regional investigative teams to look into those repeat offenders.

“Since their launch in February, they have made over 500 arrests representing over 1,600 charges,” says the RCMP announcement. “The high ratio of arrests to charges illustrates the Crime Reduction Unit’s focus: finding and arresting the people who hurt our communities the most.”

Alberta RCMP plans to implement a number of initiatives in the next six months that will complement its Crime Reduction Strategy, from enhanced responses for victims and offenders, to technologies designed to strengthen data-gathering and community engagement.

“I want to thank our valued partners in the RCMP for their hard and important work,” said Ganley in the press release. “We’ll continue to support the RCMP and our police partners to help ensure Albertans live in safe and secure communities, no matter where they call home.”Bringing it back home, Spaans says the local detachment continues, “to focus our efforts on targeted enforcement,” meaning “the small population of people who are responsible for the vast majority of crime. This has resulted in a number of our habitual offenders being charged.”

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