Crime was down in 2019 in Spruce Grove, but the five-year numbers paint a different picture.
RCMP Insp. Mike Lokken presented to city council’s committee of the whole Jan. 20, and reported that crime was down in 2019 in all of the six major categories that the RCMP track. Crimes against persons were down 9%, property crime down 28%, other criminal-code crimes down 17%, break-and-enters down 41%, thefts of motor vehicles down 41%, and thefts under $5,000 down 22%. Two concerning exceptions are sexual assaults (up 54%) and other sexual offences (up 61%).
Those numbers compare 2019 with 2018, but the numbers from 2014 to 2019 aren’t as positive. All six categories showed increases over the last five years. The RCMP report can be found at http://agenda.sprucegrove.org/agenda_publish.cfm?id=&mt=ALL&get_month=1&get_year=2020&dsp=ag&seq=521.
Insp. Lokken disputed the contention that many unreported crimes taint the statistics. For example, it’s likely that vehicle thefts, which were down 41%, are always reported. Some minor crimes may not always be reported.
Spruce Grove’s crime severity index (CSI) is 99.1, compared to a provincial average of 112. Lokken said that anything under 100 is excellent.
The CSI is calculated using variables such as crime numbers and severity. For example, a homicide has a much greater impact on the index than does a theft under $5,000.
Insp. Lokken said that local officers do a yeoman job given that we’re under-serviced with 27 officers. Our police-to-population ratio is 1,379, while the Alberta average is 1,058. Spruce Grove is trying to fill two vacant positions.
“Absolutely, 100% Spruce Grove is a safe community,” Lokken said.
The detachment’s top priorities have been crime reduction and community engagement. One effective strategy for community engagement is reaching out to students in schools.
Lokken said that residents can help combat crimes by getting to know and looking out for their neighbours and securing property. Most vehicle thefts and thefts from vehicles involve unlocked vehicles.
The local RCMP report to city council three times a year.