By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 1, 2023.
The Lethbridge Police Commission on Wednesday at its November meeting heard a report from Lethbridge Police Service.
The report covered multiple topics.
In it, the downtown policing states it has seen a decline in encampments and are investigating fire issues in downtown.
“The Downtown Policing Unit (DPU) has seen a slight decrease in the number of encampment events and continues to work closely with the encampment response team with the City of Lethbridge.
“During the winter months, the encampment response team will spend more time with the fire investigators with Lethbridge Fire Department to identify and track abandoned buildings that may be targeted by squatters,” said the report.
The report also says that two new Community Peace Officers will be joining the police force.
“Community Peace Officers (CPOs) will be increasing in numbers after two new hires graduated from the Community Peace Officer Induction Program in Lac La Biche on November 3. They are currently receiving further LPS training before moving on with the Field Training phase.”
The report also touched on a recent training scenario of a hostile protest that took place at Lethbridge Courthouse for students within the criminal justice program, nursing, and more students at Lethbridge College who took part in the training scenario.
“On October 24, the entire unit, along with other LPS officers, civilians and multiple agencies participated in a city-wide training scenario at the Lethbridge Courthouse. The scenario involved several elements: managing a hostile protest, unified command with Lethbridge Fire and EMS, multiple causalities, a bomb threat and a hostage-taking.
“Many challenges were given to the Critical Incident Team in a short amount of time. The Critical Incident Team did very well, and there were numerous learning opportunities that identified areas for improvement.”
The report also mentioned some crimes that police were able to de-escalate – one of them being a situation in which the Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) was dispatched.
“Tactical Team was deployed to a northside home to assist the Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) with a high-risk search warrant where several suspects were believed to be in possession of firearms. Several suspects were arrested, and a gun used in the offence as well as property taken during the offence, were recovered.”
Under the Recruiting Units section of the report, it was mentioned The Watch had six new volunteers join along with three new team leads.
“The Watch hired six new volunteers and three new team leads in October. Volunteers and team leads attended a week long training session that ran in the evenings from October 10-13 and First Aid training on October 14.”
The full report can be found at lethbridgepolicecommission.com under the agendas tab or it can be found posted on LPS Facebook page.
The report also showed crime statistics from January, 2017 until July of this year.
The statistics showed crime in the city increased by “11.5 per cent compared to the previous year. Additionally, crime in July 2023 increased by 21 per cent when compared to the same month in 2022.”
As for person crime, statistics showed an “15.6 per cent when compared to the previous year. Also, compared to the same month in 2022, person crime increased by 16.9 per cent. Property crime increased by 7.5 per cent when compared to the previous year. In addition, Property crime in July 2023 increased by 25 per cent when compared to the same month in 2022.”
The report states that across downtown Lethbridge, crime increased by 20.9 per cent compared to the previous year while in North Lethbridge crime decreased by -9.7 per cent compared to the previous year.
Across South Lethbridge, crime increased by 18.4 per cent compared to the previous year,
Across West Lethbridge, crime increased by 3.7 per cent compared to the previous year.”