The Prince Albert Police Service reviews statistics and information relating to crime trends on a daily basis and continues to work toward targeted enforcement of all crime, including weapons violence, drugs and property crime, while also focusing efforts on addressing root-cause issues that often lead to violent crime. On Tuesday, July 27, the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics (Stats Canada) will release annual Crime Severity Index (CSI) values for the year 2020 based on both violent and non-violent police-reported data from roughly 300 communities across the country with core populations over 10,000.
2020 was an unusual year and our community was challenged in many ways. In 2020, PAPS members responded to approximately 40,000 calls for service, an increase of 11.47 per cent over the previous year. Police also noted a very small drop in violent crime in 2020, and a 23 per cent drop in property crime. There were an unfortunate 10 victims of homicide in our community in 2020, the most ever recorded.
One of the biggest factors in determining the annual CSI rankings is our community’s census population, which is approximately 36,000 people. The annual rankings are based on the ratio of crime versus the core population for a community, as opposed to the totality of crime in communities. The Prince Albert Police Service serves a large transient and rural population and consistently responds to a much higher than average number of calls for service than other agencies in communities of a similar size. Many of these calls involve residents with primary addresses outside Prince Albert.
Prince Albert’s retail population, or the number of people who come to our community each day for services, medical appointments, or entertainment, is closer to 190,000 people, meaning local police officers are actually tasked with policing a much larger population than census figures show. This results in a higher number of reported crimes each year, but is not factored into our community’s population size when determining rankings.
A look at statistics for previous years shows violent crime has consistently been trending higher in Prince Albert, a trend also being seen in other communities across our province and western Canada. Our police service continues to investigate more files each year involving guns, weapons, drugs and violence given the core population numbers for our community.
This remains true in 2021 as some of these areas continue to trend higher. Numbers show that the Prince Albert Police Service has responded to 24,821 calls for service up to July 20, 2021 including an unfortunate six homicides this year.
Police have laid charges in four of these homicide files and continue to investigate.
The Prince Albert Police Service has several dedicated teams focused on targeted enforcement of drugs, weapons crime, property crime, and illegal gang activity, including the Integrated Crime Reduction Team (I-CRT), Street Enforcement Team (SET), Prince Albert Integrated Intelligence Unit (PAIIU), and the Crime Suppression Team. Each of these specialized units is supported by members with the Criminal Investigations Division (CID), Canine Section, Police and Crisis Team (PACT), SWAT, and Patrol and is focused on investigating and arresting those responsible for violence and related crime, and preventing further victimization of the community.
Daily crime trends are monitored by Police Records Management Controllers (PRMC) and an analyst who reviews data in real-time to assist in coordinating enforcement efforts and targeted policing initiatives.
Proactive policing is a priority and the police service continues to deploy officers throughout the community focused on high-visibility patrols and proactive engagement through the Community Policing Unit, Community Safety Officers, Métis Mentorship Program, Traffic and CTSS, and Community Services.
The Prince Albert Police Service continues to work toward the launch of a Multi-Year Proactive Policing Strategy, aimed at addressing local crime trends and problem addresses in our community. This new strategy was approved by City Council earlier this year and will add four additional officers to focus on proactive policing strategies this December upon our new officers returning from training at provincial police college.
Members with the Prince Albert Police Service’s Victim Services Unit (VSU), including our Indigenous Resource Officer and Missing Persons Liaison, continue to participate regularly with the HUB program, and assist individuals and families affected by crime by connecting them with counselling and support services, and information about the court process.
The Prince Albert Police Service remains committed to engaging with community agencies, local advocates, and victims of crime and their families, to support healthier lifestyles and programs aimed at addictions treatment, mental health services, housing and emergency supports for vulnerable residents. The police service is guided by the Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners on this mandate, which includes representatives from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including education, business, corrections, the Prince Albert Grand Council and the Indian & Metis Friendship Centre.