The Top RCMP officer in Wetaskiwin says crime numbers appear to be dropping in the area, as he spoke to the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce at their regular luncheon Apr. 26.
Insp. Keith Durance, officer in command of the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment, gave an overview of crime issues in and around Wetaskiwin this year and compared to the past few years.
Durance noted the area saw a big increase in crime from 2015 to 2018, but now in 2019 instances appear to be dropping, especially in certain crime categories.
Last year, for example, the area saw an increase in armed robberies which Durance stated were, to a large extent, related to organized crime. This year, Durance noted, there have only been three so far.
Another example is property crime, which the inspector stated had been trending up over the past three years. However, those numbers have been dropping lately; there’s been a 33 per cent drop in property crimes in the Wetaskiwin area lately.
Looking at the surrounding regions of central Alberta, Durance stated persons crimes appear to be down, while property crimes appear to be up in frequency.
The inspector discussed an RCMP policing priorities survey, and said that responses to surveys tend to be similar, regardless of whether respondents are urban or rural residents. He noted concerns are similar to previous years and include priorities like property crime and impaired driving. The Wetaskiwin RCMP conducted town hall meetings as well to discuss crime prevention and listen to residents concerns.
Durance told the crowd that, generally speaking, eight to 10 per cent of suspects commit about 80 per cent of the crime in the area. Hence, a crime reduction team was formed in Wetaskiwin area comprised of four police officers who concentrate their efforts on repeat offenders. Durance said that’s where the 33 per cent drop in property crimes came from.
The Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment has three new members, he noted, and recently had a crime analyst added to their roster. This staff member works with the CRT by analyzing data and providing that analysis to the CRT.
Durance also mentioned the efforts in Wetaskiwin to bring a friendship centre to the city. The idea is still in discussions.
He also mentioned the benefits the city’s temporary homeless shelter had in Wetaskiwin this past winter, especially during the nasty cold snap in February. He said, from a policing standpoint, the positive effects of the homeless shelter could be seen in things like fewer people taken to the cellblock.