Illegal drugs and street crime can be a vicious circle.
The 2011-13 Strategic Plan for the RCMP Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment makes this connection crystal clear:
“From the front line perspective, the Detachment understands these areas are often inter-related: those seeking to support a drug habit often resort to property crime.”
The just-released three-year plan, created with input from citizens, city and RCMP staff alike, was presented by RCMP Supt. Keith Robinson at city hall on Tuesday afternoon.
“This year the decision was made to commit to a three-year strategic plan,” Robinson explained to council.
The key goals are geared to clamping down on “prolific offenders and crime hotspots” by using intelligence-based policing.
Another idea RCMP committed to was enhancing police visibility — something the public often calls for, particularly in the business area of downtown. Consequently increased foot patrols and bike unit presence are part of the plan.
Police say they will continue to target gangs and related drug activity, and “optimize” staffing resources.
With clear and attainable goals in place and measurable outcomes for followup, the plan is the result of broad community consultation.
“Keep in mind this is not my particular plan, it’s the community’s plan,” he noted.
In fact, two of the key objectives are in response to calls from the public for RCMP to take action on drugs and petty crime.
“Residents in the Upper Fraser Valley who participated in the survey cited two main areas they believe the RCMP should be targeting as a priority for policing, dealing with the sale of illegal drugs (80%) and reducing property crime including theft from homes and vehicles (79%).
When those surveyed were asked to say which of the two should have the absolute highest priority, illegal drugs took the lead with 53% rating it very high priority.
Overall, three themes were dominant: safer communities, optimizing resources and staff support.
The fact that “measurable outcomes” are central to the plan impressed Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
“It’s also nice to note that property crime went down 22 per cent,” she said about the 2009 crime stats, after the plan was presented.
Some concern was expressed about the amount of time it takes for officers to do reports and manage data under the PRIME system.
“Unfortunately to obtain the data, someone has to enter it,” Robinson said.
He said they’re working on a process where the members call in the data and it’s entered later.
“Hopefully that reduces the time frame.”
Coun. Chuck Stam called the strategic plan “a bold” document, which avoids the “airy fairy” traps by focusing on priorities, action and outcomes.
“You are to be congratulated,” he said.