If it’s not reported, they can’t understand the scope of local crime.
That was the main takeaway from two town halls hosted by the Strathcona County RCMP and local Enforcement Services on Tuesday, Oct. 25 in Sherwood Park and on Thursday, Oct. 27 in Ardrossan.
Throughout the presentation, local RCMP Supt. Dale Kendall reiterated that if residents and businesses don’t report a crime, however minor it may seem to them, it impacts the ability for the detachment and broader Edmonton area to track criminal activity and trends — and the current crime data does not fully reflect the number of crimes that are actually happening on the ground.
“We can’t work smarter, not harder unless people are reporting crimes that are happening,” Kendall stated on Oct. 27 at the Ardrossan Memorial Hall. “As much as we want to get out and help people and stop crimes from happening, we can’t mine that information and we can’t find those hotspots and deter crime if we don’t know it’s happening. Please, please, please, if you know anyone who has been impacted by any kind of criminal activity, make sure you tell them to call it in.”
It really come down to the old adage: if you see something, say something.
“Accurate crime data allows for appropriate resource deployment and hot spot checks. It helps us with intelligence gathering,” Kendall explained. “We want to know when crimes are up or down and it needs to be factual, and in order to do that, people need to report crimes.”
Currently, crime rates are trending down across Strathcona County. In Sherwood Park, crime has decreased by seven per cent and in the rural area, it has dropped by 11 per cent, according to Strathcona County RCMP.
Criminal Code Offences against people have increased by three per cent in Sherwood Park, but property crime has decreased by eight per cent. Both Criminal Code Offences against people and property have dropped by nine per cent in the rural area of the county.
Crypto crime, the grandparent scam, mail theft and catalytic converters were highlighted as crimes of concern for the detachment.
The grandparent scam is when criminals randomly call residents and pretend to be a distressed grandchild who needs money immediately. In many cases, the fraudsters ask the victim to send them thousands of dollars. So far, for 2022, 13 cases of this crime have been reported locally, however, during the Sherwood Park town hall, another four residents said they were impacted by this but didn’t report it. Kendall noted many people are ashamed that they lost money to fraudsters, but encouraged the public to always report it to police.
“This is a way bigger issue than what we know about. We don’t know all of the calls that are happening,” Kendall said.
The town halls also outlined the RCMP’s performance plan, which is bookended between April 2022 and March 2023. Top of the priority list was traffic safety with a goal of 20,000 interactions. That captures everything from violation tickets issued, traffic warnings, and check stops. So far, the detachment has achieved almost 14,000 files, and Kendall said police are on schedule to meet that target.
Another top priority is crime reduction. That area includes completing 3,000 hotspot checks (which are based on data provided by the two local crime analysts) and so far, police have completed 2,700.
While the number of offender checks is low for the county, completing only 302 of the 1,500 file goal, the Superintendent said that’s actually a good thing.
“Our officers will go to an offenders home and ask if they’re home, and if they’re not, they’re in a breach of court conditions. Offenders checks are just that, to make sure they’re meeting their conditions. However, a lot of crime that is committed in Strathcona County is conducted by people who don’t live in Strathcona County, they live around the Edmonton area. They come in, commit their crimes and leave,” she explained. “So, if someone commits a crime here, we can’t do those offender checks because they don’t live in our jurisdiction. Wherever that offender lives, that RCMP detachment will do the offender check on our behalf.”
Other priorities included improving staff wellness, increasing community engagement, and focusing on the virtual opioid dependency program — which is a partnership between AHS and all RCMP detachments that address drug use in a moment of crisis to those who want help and provides follow up.