A recent presentation to Abbotsford city council about crime and policing around the region showed what has been known for a long time, Chilliwack has among the highest crime rates while spending the least on policing.
Graphs illustrating regional crime data presented by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) showed property crime in Chilliwack in 2018 at 7,708 per 100,000 population, up from 7,493 in 2017.
That property crime rate is 42 per cent higher than Langley at 5,432 per 100,000, 49 per cent higher than Mission at 5,166 per 100,000, and 51 per cent higher than Abbotsford at 5,094 per 100,000.
All of those communities had rates higher than Ridge Meadows and Surrey.
As for violent crime, the picture is even worse. With a 2018 rate of 1,573 per 100,000 population in Chilliwack, that’s up 50 per cent over 2017 at 1,050 per 100,000. Mission saw a similar jump from 1,069 in 2017 to 1,610 in 2018.
Chilliwack’s violent crime rate in 2018 was 55 per cent higher than Abbotsford, 67 higher than Langley, and 70 higher than Surrey.
Chilliwack city council does not receive a similar presentation from the RCMP on crime statistics, but Supt. Bryon Massie did confirm the numbers were accurate.
Mayor Ken Popove said the issue is important to council and they are acting, first off with adding six more police officers in this year’s budget.
Those six officers come after 15 officers were added to the force the year before.
Public safety is routinely single largest line item in the city’s annual budget with policing taking up nearly a third of tax dollars gathered. Still, in the APD presentation comparing 15 agencies in communities from Victoria to Chilliwack, the Chilliwack RCMP had the lowest cost per capita for policing in 2016, while Victoria had the highest, Vancouver second highest, Delta third.
At least part of that cost differential is the higher salaries paid to municipal police forces than Mounties receive.
But the number of officers per capita showed stark differences, too. At just under 800 residents per police officer, Chilliwack is tops. Saanich and Abbotsford are under 700 population per officer, Delta under 600, Vancouver under 500, and Victoria at around 400 people per officer meaning there are almost twice as many police officers per citizen in the provincial capital than in Chilliwack.
On the crime numbers, Mayor Popove said city hall is well aware and they are working on the issue.
“The people that we are hoping to get at the table is, of course RCMP, the aboriginal community, the judiciary, provincial police services, legal people, Crown counsel, Fraser Health, and see if we can maybe come up with a made for Chilliwack plan,” Popove said.
“I know as far as the RCMP goes, we heard what the people asked for, but at $172,000 per cop, you do the math, that’s a fair bit of dough. That will certainly create situations for the police to be more efficient and go after the prolific [offenders] like we’ve been harping on year after year.”