Ponoka RCMP looking at new ways of crime prevention

Ponoka’s RCMP Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm knows the hotspots of crime in town but dealing with problem areas comes in different forms.

Ponoka’s RCMP Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm knows the hotspots of crime in town but dealing with problem areas comes in different forms.

He presented year-end crime statistics to town councillors Feb. 11 but feels there is nothing that jumps out as a major issue. “Sometimes they’re (statistics) of value and sometimes they’re just data.”

Ponoka RCMP have started working on their Annual Performance Plan, which gives officers a way to track performance. Chisholm uses crime information, feedback from the Ponoka County and the Town of Ponoka and from community groups to draft a plan.

Youth and traffic continue to be a priority and Chisholm is adding other goals to the list; community engagement with residents and putting together a crime reduction strategy.

Community engagement

Chisholm wants to ensure residents know what police are up to and “the public knowing more about what we do and having that confidence in the police service.”

Crime reduction

“There’s three tenets of crime reduction: the prolific offenders, the hotspots and there’s actually dealing with the root cause of crime,” said Chisholm in an interview.

For prolific offenders, Chisholm says police find that the majority of crimes are being caused by a small number of people and there are different ways of dealing with criminals. “If you can focus on dealing with those individuals and focus on the offender rather than the offense, typically you’ll see a reduction in crime, more of a permanent reduction in crime.”

Through crime analysis RCMP can focus on areas where there are a high number of calls for service and direct their attention in those areas. The other way police can mitigate problems is through addressing the root cause of crime, said Chisholm. “It actually involves giving prolific offenders a way out.”

Police can provide criminals with necessary services to find ways out of a negative lifestyle.

“This division has had various crime-reduction strategies employed,” explained Chisholm.

Young offenders have the Youth Justice Committee, which is a program under the Ponoka Youth Centre. The committee provides diversion options for youths and finds ways punishment that is not jail time; this may involve community service or meeting with the families who were affected by the youths.

“The diversion process is found to be an effective process for preventing crime,” he said.

Overtime costs during the Ponoka Stampede

Paying for policing is mostly footed by the Town of Ponoka and Chisholm told councillors that the Ponoka Stampede Association pays for half of the overtime costs during the week of the Stampede. He suggests there may be other options available to the town.

“You also have to look at guard costs. I’m looking at 24 hours a day with guards,” explained Chisholm.

Another cost consideration is if police have to go to court after charging someone during the Stampede. “There’s the possibility of overtime right there. Maybe we can look at the possibility of better reflective costs to what the Stampede Association should be contributing toward the policing costs related to that event.”

Coun. Carla Prediger asked if there is a way to track those costs and Chisholm said there are ways of calculating what those indirect costs actually are.