Wetaskiwin’s RCMP Inspector Keith Durance says he wasn’t surprised that the city was listed near the top of “Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019,” a feature posted online by Maclean’s Magazine earlier last week.
Insp. Durance, who has been with the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment for over a year, says he saw the Crime Severity Index (CSI) trends, which ultimately placed Wetaskiwin first in the province and third nationally.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he explained in his office at the Wetaskiwin RCMP Detachment Nov. 7.
“We had two homicides back-to-back and I saw that the sexual assaults are up and property crimes are moving upwards; we had an extra 1,300 calls for service that year, and all those things together, yes, we are going to take a hit on the CSI,” Insp. Durance said.
The CSI is a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, which considers the volume and seriousness of offences within the city. Insp. Durance says that those statistics are also based on population.
“One has to understand that because we have 12,600 people, it doesn’t take long for that (the CSI) to jump.
“If we had 30,000 people in Wetaskiwin, and the same crime, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” he said.
While he wasn’t shocked about the overall CSI increase, Insp. Durance says that the city isn’t any more dangerous than it was years prior, disagreeing with Wetaskiwin being dubbed one of “Canada’s Most Dangerous Places.”
“Is Wetaskiwin a more dangerous place to live then a year ago or the year before? No. The dynamic of Wetaskiwin hasn’t changed,” he said.
Nevertheless, Insp. Durance says the local RCMP have put into place a number of crime reduction strategies, as well as adding members to an Integrated Crime Reduction Team, which has been successful in reducing property crime.
“A big key piece for police to take a bite out of crime is to concentrate their efforts on prolific offenders,” he said.
“Eight to 10 per cent of criminals are doing 80 per cent of the crime, so if you concentrate your efforts there, that is where you’re going to get bang for your buck.”
Insp. Durance also thinks it is worthwhile for the community to consider building a homeless shelter, which could make an impact on a social level.
“This would be beneficial,” he said, mentioning that “preliminary” conversations are occurring in regards to this.
The inspector also made mention of requesting the approval of Wetaskiwin city council for the addition of three more members in 2019.
By Jessica Jones, Pipestone Flyer freelancer