The Board of Police Commissioners held their first meeting of the year on Tuesday morning at City Hall where they discussed the 2022 year-end crime statistics and the driving factors that influenced them.
The proactive calls or “neighbourhood strengthening” efforts at the end of 2022 saw a decrease of just over 60 per cent, while the calls for service involving assaults (26.35 per cent), missing persons (35.24 per cent), and evictions (58.39 per cent) increased significantly.
Farica Prince, Deputy Chief of the Prince Albert Police Service, attributed this negative correlation to the increased police response that is required for active, ongoing situations.
“When we’re spending so much time on reactive calls, then that gives us less time to work on proactive work,” explained Police Chief Jonathan Bergen. “As we’re responsive to different transient crime, the capacity of the organization can only do so much.”
While evictions aren’t typically criminal in nature, they are calls for service that take up a significant amount of police resources due to safety concerns.
The police service also saw a rise in victims of violent crime, an increase of over 56 per cent than in 2021. Prince said the main reason for this significant change in numbers from the previous year is because of a revamping to their dispatching and reporting practices.
“We’re getting a more accurate reflection,” added Prince.
She explained that in late 2021 and early 2022, PAPS recognized that “in some instances, the guidelines and policies weren’t fully being adhered to. Something that may have been a violent crime or assault — through that information traveling from Point A to Point B — might have ended up as a disturbance by the time it got to the police officer when really it should have been reported as a violent crime.”
“We worked very closely with our partners at the PECC (Provincial Emergency Communications Centre) and our dispatch centre to review our dispatching guidelines and to review our reporting practices internally,” said Prince, who clarified that corrections have since been made to the incorrect reports. “We recognize the system had allowed for that for quite some time so we’ve made significant changes.”
City Councillor Blake Edwards, who sits on the Police Commissioner’s Board, said crystal meth use in Prince Albert is also driving up violence and asked what the City Police are doing to combat it.
Prince said because of the vacancies in authorized police positions last year, the Crime Reduction Team that targets drug trafficking and gang violence was taken away from their investigations to respond to incidents like carjackings.
“The CRT is fully staffed going forward,” added Bergen. “Meth has a significant impact on all communities, us included.”
The 2022 Year-End Statistical Report was approved, and the next Board of Police Commissioners meeting is scheduled for April 25.
Jan. 18 edit: A quote has been changed to reflect accuracy.