If it feels like there is a lot of property crime in Chilliwack, there is.
Chilliwack’s property crime rate so far for 2017 is 26 per cent higher than the second highest city in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver), and is 54 per cent higher than the average of 11 communities from Richmond to the Fraser Valley.
That’s according to regional crime data presented to Abbotsford city council recently by Abbotsford Police Department (APD) chief Bob Rich.
Rich’s presentation, which included crime rate and policing cost data, was part of his annual budget presentation to council.
And in comparing Abbotsford to other municipalities and police forces, Chilliwack’s shortcomings were revealed.
Maybe most startling was the per 100,000 population crime rate of 12,644 in 2016 in Chilliwack. That’s 58 per cent higher than the average (8,011) of 11 communities from Richmond to Chilliwack, and 25 higher than the second highest of those communities, Mission at 10,132. Delta is lowest at 4,753.
As for violent crime, the rate of 1,344 (per 100,000 population) is third out of 11 communities in the region behind Ridge Meadows and Mission, but 31 per cent higher than the average of 1,022 for those communities.
On property crime, the rate of 5,657 so far for 2017 compares to 3,779 in Abbotsford, 3,943 in Surrey, 4,488 in Vancouver and 3,524 in Mission.
In 2016, the numbers were even more dramatic on property crime with a rate 29 per cent higher than the second highest community, Vancouver. That rate in Chilliwack is 31 per cent higher than Surrey, 71 per cent higher than Abbotsford, and 160 per cent higher than Delta.
When asked about the numbers, Mayor Sharon Gaetz said since 2015, council has moved decisively to tackle crime rates in the city.
“Policing represents 32 per cent of our municipal budget and public safety remains a high priority for council,” she said via email.
“The latest information that we have received from the RCMP tells us that our crime stats are starting to trend down. The Priority Offender Suppression Team (POST) is making a positive impact, as are regular foot patrols and the new Quick Response Team.”
Chilliwack appears to be getting what it pays for when it comes to policing, according to the data Rich presented in Abbotsford.
With the worst property crime rate, the worst overall crime rate, Chilliwack also has one of the highest rates of residents per police officer, and has the lowest policing costs out of 15 agencies the APD chief compared.
Mayor Gaetz pointed out the policing cost data was from 2015, since which council has hired 10 more police officers.
“Since 2015 we have added 14 officers and in our draft 2018 budget we may add up to four more for a total of 18 additional officers,” she added.
A further problem unrelated to the crime data, is the trouble the RCMP is having retaining officers with the lure of municipal police forces.
In his presentation to Abbotsford council, Rich addressed how APD benefits from this issue saying that he is not critical of the RCMP, but the force is dealing with “resource issues,” which leads members to move to municipal forces such as the APD.
Rich said he hears about the RCMP resource issues when he hires ex-Mounties.
“When we hire a police officer and bring him in or her in and provide that person with a clean new uniform, a new firearm, the proper bulletproof vest and a well-equipped police car, they’re like, ‘We didn’t have that,’” Rich said.