With a mixture of new and old strategies, Chestermere’s RCMP have seen positive results in improving road safety and reducing property crimes in the city over the past quarter.
“We’ve seen some fantastic enhancements with respect to our activities and our objectives that we’re looking to achieve in both of those priorities,” said Chestermere RCMP Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Mark Wielgosz.
With respect to road safety, Wielgosz said that both reportable collisions and injury collisions are down.
“With collision we saw about a seven and a half per cent drop and injury collisions were reduced by 50 per cent in the first quarter,” he said.
With such positive results, he said that local RCMP’s efforts and partnership with Chestermere’s Peace Officers to improve the safety of city streets is working.
“That’s giving us a signal that what we’re doing seems to be working at least at this point in time,” said Wielgosz.
When it comes to property crime, the improvement is not quite as good, but Wielgosz said that police are making headway on what has been a stubbornly persistent problem in Chestermere.
“We’re working more in a targeted and intelligence driven…manner with respect to these crimes,” he said.
Even with the improvements, Wielgosz said that their message is still lock it or lose when it comes to residents securing their homes and vehicles.
“Despite the number of arrests that we make and seizures and recoveries of stolen property the message still remains consistent, we’d like people to lock up their belongings or risk losing it,” he said.
Last year, about 50 per cent of the property crimes in Chestermere were as a result of insecure property, including vehicles.
“So, it’s a matter of educating the public to try and get them on board with what we’re trying to do,” said Wielgosz, “to ensure everyone’s doing their part to keep our community safe.”
One way that the residents can help the RCMP is to join their voluntary home video surveillance registry.
The registry, which stays within the detachment, gives police a list of houses in Chestermere with home video surveillance systems.
When property or other crimes occur, the ability for police to quickly consult the registry and approach homeowners whose home system’s may have video evidence of the incident can lead to faster investigations with better chances of making an arrest or recovering stolen property.
Wielgosz said that video footage is invaluable in their investigations.
“Last week for instance, there was one incident we were investigating with respect to a stolen vehicle and as we were investigating a resident stepped out stating that they’re seen the suspect leave the vehicle and in fact had footage of the entire matter.
“That was another instance where video surveillance on a home became very useful to us and it is assisting with identifying that suspect,” said Wielgosz.
The biggest challenge RCMP have had with the registry is letting residents know it exists.
He said that in most cases like the recent stolen vehicle, homeowners are completely unaware of the registry program.
“A lot of [residents] just don’t know the program exists but when they’re told about it they’re certainly very supportive and willing to help in any way that they can,” said Wielgosz.
When a person comes forward with video surveillance, officers ask if they would like to be added to the registry.
“And as far as I’m aware we have yet to have a person decline,” said Wielgosz.
While the registry is slowly growing as police investigate incidents in Chestermere, Wielgosz said that he would be happy to have people call the detachment and sign up.
When it comes to raising awareness in the community, Wielgosz hopes that the new crime mapping tool that is available on the City’s RCMP website will both encourage people to join the registry and help to educate people on what is happening in the city.
The map, which can be found at www.chestermere.ca/202/RCMP, shows the past 14 days of crimes committed in the community.
In addition to the potential to help in their investigations, Wielgosz said that he decided to join the mapping program created by Alberta’s RCMP be cause he felt it would be a positive move for Chestermere.
By participating in the crime mapping, Wielgosz said that Chestermere’s RCMP are supporting the city’s strategic goals towards transparency and accountability.
“We are accountable to the public and I think it’s fair that they know what’s going on in their community,” he said.