July 24th, 2024

Task force to hear report on downtown crime numbers

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 6, 2024.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A police cruiser drives down 4 Ave. S. on Monday. The Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force will be hearing a report this week from Deputy Chief Gerald Grobmeier on data Lethbridge Police Service has collected on issues downtown.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force on Thursday will be hearing a report from Deputy Chief Gerald Grobmeier on data Lethbridge Police Service has collected on issues downtown.

It’s one of three reports to be presented to the task force at its 7:30 a.m. meeting in council chambers at City Hall.

The Deputy Chief’s report will cover all occurrences within the Downton Business Revitalization Zone from May 1 until Aug. 31 of last year. It includes drug complaints and excludes less serious violations, violations that are typically officer-generated such as traffic and drug possession/trafficking violations.

Included categories were:

– Check Welfare

– Drug Complaints

– Economic Crimes

– Municipal

– Other Acts

– Person Crimes

– Property Crimes

– Secondary Person Crimes

– Secondary Property Crimes

Matters such as administrative, false alarms and assisting others were excluded.

According to the report from May to August of 2023, there were 6,419 occurrences in Lethbridge with 15.3 per cent of them – 984 – being in the Downtown BRZ.

The Senator Buchanan neighbourhood had 615 occurrences and rounding out the Top 3 in the city was the Westminster neighbourhood with 511.

The number of people in each neighbourhood fluctuates during the day so the police calculated separate daytime – 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. – and nighttime categories (8 p.m. until 8 a.m.).

In terms of daytime crime rate occurrences per person in neighbourhoods with a minimum of 100 people, data shows downtown had the 10th highest rate at 0.286. Ranking first was Senator Buchanan at 0.511.

Downtown, however, had the highest nighttime crime rate at 1.808. In terms of average response time, downtown had the 11th fastest at 23.93 minutes. This rate is determined from the time the call is created until police arrived on the scene.

Response time ranged from 14.40 minutes to 89.25 minutes.

A graph on downtown crime for the past 10 years shows there were 328 person crimes in downtown from May to August in 2023. There were also 322 property crimes, the highest in the past 10 years. The report notes those months “saw a noticeable increase” in both.

During those three months in 2022, there were 209 person crimes and 224 property crimes. There were 114 secondary person crimes in those three months last year compared to 47 in 2022. And there were 101 check welfare matters in 2023, the second highest number in the past 10 years (there were 105 in 2017).

Person crimes were the highest in the 10-year period with the second highest number being 281 in 2014. The lowest was 147 in 2016. For property crimes, the second highest total was 2021 with 249 while the lowest was 115 in 2015.

The report shows person crimes in 2023 can be mostly attributed to an increase in assaults. There were 69 assaults downtown in that three-month period last year and 67 assaults with “bh/weapon” (bodily harm/weapon) according to the report. There were also eight sexual assaults.

Assaults bh/weapon were by far the highest in the 10-year span with 2021 and 2022 a distance second with 19 apiece. Assaults were also the highest by one over 2018.

The report shows there was a significant increase in assault victims with no fixed address and fixed addresses, the former an 850 per cent increase over 2022 and the latter a 58 per cent increase.

In 2023 between May and August, there were 44 break-and-enters, which the report says is mostly responsible for the increase in property crimes. In 2022, there were 18 break and enters. The second highest figure of 27 came in 2021.

The top five hotspots were Park Place Mall with 124 occurrences – 67 of them being for shoplifting; Galt Gardens with 117 (37 of them assault), the Petro-Can on 6 Ave. S. with 68 (19 for loitering), the RBC Royal Bank on 4 Ave. S. with 33 (29 for loitering) and the Esso/Circle K on 6 Ave. S. with 25 (five for assault).

Of downtown occurrences from May to August, 101 were loitering/panhandling, 97 for check on welfare, 91 for shoplifting $5,000 or under, 84 for suspicious person or vehicle. Sixty-nine were for assault and 67 assault bh/weapon.

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Smoke and mirrors?
Why do you mention Senator Buchanan area, when the report is for downtown to the DLR task force? We all know the numbers are much higher for drug use, assaults, intimidation, loitering, property damage and other areas, but people don’t bother to report them anymore because nothing is ever done and the culprits are long gone when police arrive.
The stats should be presented in such a manner that the average Johnny Q. Public can easily discern the facts. The outlines above fog the stats so it is difficult. In fact, it almost looks like they are saying ‘what’s the big deal, look at the crime across the city’. The task force is attempting to resolve issues downtown so people who refuse to come downtown, will return. Smoke and mirrors!
Why do we need to go back 10 years? We know the native gangs were battling for territory downtown in 2015 and there are several stabbings within weeks.
I say again: many do not bother to report crimes because of the response times and if the offender is arrested, he is back on the street before police finish the paperwork.
No blame to police. We know they are undermanned!
I could call police 20 times per day, easily, for open drug use, property damage, open drinking, urinating/defecating in public, drunk in a public place, loitering and other issues just by driving around and seeing it occur. Just sit in Galt Gardens for an hour and see how many offenses you find.
The issue is what happens once they are charged! There needs to be consequences.

Last edited 5 months ago by R.U.Serious