Wheatland County locals are all too familiar with this summer's recent crime spike. There are a ton of factors to consider when it comes to the causes. Summer heat, more foot traffic from visitors or locals and even the easing of Covid-19 regulations could all be probable causes. However local RCMP are more focused on solutions.
Yesterday Staff Sergeant Mark Wielgosz updated councillors on crime prevention programs and what is being done to reduce both local and rural crime.
“We see that there are changes in what our crime levels are or certain emerging trends. We try to implement measures to mitigate that in a way that will find the best, longer-lasting solution in ways that we can serve. It's Strathmore specific that's where community engagement is very important to us. To hear where our resident's perception of crime is, but that having that being tempered with what we are seeing with actual crime, that's why we need all crimes to be reported to us.”
In addition, Wielgosz updated the council on recent crime stats and how the RCMP is using this information to police the community.
“If we look at an average of our crime numbers over the past four years, trying to establish some line of a baseline of where crime exists in our area. I can tell you that as far as the theft of motor vehicles was concerned, based on our four-year calendar average there was a 38% reduction, there was a 12% reduction in theft from motor vehicles and in break and enters there was a 42% reduction. So we're still under our averages for the last four years of crime numbers and by the next time I attend, I'll have more metrics to show you as far as how we're trying to measure where we're maintaining and managing crime in our areas. Ultimately, we want to make sure that we're still seeing reductions.”
Wielgosz also added that there has been an increase in injury collisions however he also added that this was mostly due to animal strikes. However, in better news, the RCMP reported that there has been a 17% decrease in the overall reportable collisions.
The council also heard from Wielgosz about a new program aimed at young offenders
“We have another initiative that we've been able to get off the ground last quarter, which is our Strathmore youth and indigenous youth diversion program. What that program is designed to do is to catch those entering the criminal justice system early, so that we can come up with a more meaningful lasting solution to correct the behaviour and divert people off the path of criminal activity…The person to be an eligible candidate for this program would involve an admission of wrongdoing, they get to admit what they did, and there's going to be some expression of legitimate remorse and some willingness to make recompense Most importantly, we need to make sure that the person who is affected our victim is supportive of this diversion.”
The program itself involves offenders beautifying the community by picking up weeds or shovelling snow or assisting the Public Works Department with tasks like picking up garbage.
Wielgosz also stated that the RCMP will be focusing on rural property crime, road safety, community engagement and police visibility this quarter
Time will tell if these new programs and policing initiatives will make a difference in crime prevention in the Strathmore and the Wheatland County communities. However, with more proposed initiatives being implemented and more officers focused on enacting them, its likely we will soon see changes to the way Strathmore is policed
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