In July, stats Canada released their annual numbers for 2018 crime in Canada, and province-wide the numbers have steadily increased.

Moose Jaw's police service track these numbers year-round and adjust resources accordingly. It allows them to understand the environment in which they are in.

Police Chief Rick Bourassa said that the most useful aspect of the reports for them is that it allows them to compare to other communities.

"This release was very informative for us, in terms of understanding where we are in relation to our policing partners. We do work with them all the time because so much of what we deal with isn't constrained by any sort of municipal boundaries or regional boundaries. We find ourselves working with our partners quite often. And we were certainly well aware of some trends that we've been tracking for a few years."

The city's crime severity index, which includes all types of crime, has increased from 98 in 2013 to 121 in 2018.

Bourassa said it is a significant increase.

"We can't categorically attribute causation to it, but we do see some correlations. Primarily in relation to the illicit drug trade, and the increase in (the) prevalence of methamphetamine in the city. Which is not unique us here, our partners across the province report the same. We work with our health authority who report the same data too. We have seen an increase in that. And with that comes a behavioural change. We see an increase in violence when we see methamphetamine in a community as well. We have focused a lot of our resources on tackling that. We've done a lot of projects, and made a lot of methamphetamine seizures. And we will continue to do that and to focus on that."

They have followed and noticed a shift in the types of crime that happen in Moose Jaw, primarily an increase in violent crime.

"That shift is not unique to us here. It's consistent with what has been seen across the province. As a police service, this helps us to identify where we need to continue to focus our efforts. Both preventative, and in an enforcement capacity."

Implemented within the past year is the Police and Crisis Team. "In terms of a lot of these", said Bourassa, "we also see that we are often interacting with people that are struggling with mental health issues. And the formation of the Police and Crisis team brings front line and mental health professionals together with front line police officers to be very proactive in dealing with situations and individuals that may be predisposed to becoming involved with these situations. And being able to provide responses when it gets to there. But also after the fact, to be able to provide supports and resources to people. We're going to continue working on expanding some of those programs, and hopefully be able to see some more impacts in terms of being able to reduce some of these numbers."

Bourassa said these are complex problems that don't have simple solutions, and they recognize that enforcing their way out of these issues won't always solve them.

"Certainly that's part of our responsibility and we'll do that. But we recognize that being proactive and being involved with other agencies that can provide good support is a very promising way to go in the future."

These are trends have continued for a number of years, increasing throughout the province. What they suggest to members of the public is to continue to report these incidents to the police. They can only deal with situations that they're aware of.

"Overall we are still a very safe community", said Bourassa. "However, we have seen an increase in some areas that we need to get a handle on and be able to bring some reductions to those areas. We really pay attention to these things. And we have to be evidence-based when moving forward and use intelligence to get at some of these things. We watch this very closely so we understand where we should be deploying resources and the key pieces that we need to be working on."

 

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