When it comes to the crime rate of a city, sometimes perceptions can be at odds with the evidence.
Take Chilliwack’s crime rate. Would most people think crime in Chilliwack went up or down overall, 2013 to 2014?
The overall crime rate is in fact trending downward, with property crime down three per cent over last year, August to August, according to RCMP stats. It’s an ongoing trend.
The Chilliwack Progress asked all three mayoralty candidates what specifically they would do as mayor to make citizens feels safer in their community. (Full responses can be found here.)
Mayoralty candidate Raymond Cauchi replied that he’d begin by encouraging people to “engage” with their neighbours.
“I would promote neighbour gatherings and attend. I would begin a dialogue about how knowing who your neighbours are and getting to know them is a key part of feeling safe,” he said.
His idea is “diverting funds” to increase presence and response time of first responders in “targeted” neighbourhoods.
“Every neighbourhood has unique needs and I would not want to direct resources to where they are not needed,” said Cauchi.
Incumbent Sharon Gaetz stated in her answer that citizens “deserve” to feel safe.
Through “the hard work of the Public Safety Advisory Committee,” a city committee, they’ve been able to make “great strides” in crime reduction in Chilliwack, she noted. An RCMP official briefed city council earlier this year, noting that auto theft was down 36 per cent. But theft from vehicles is going up. So they’ve brought in leader boards to flash crime-prevention messages to the public about locking out crime.
It’s a visual reminder to lock up, since half of those crimes, thefts from vehicles, are attributed to unlocked vehicles.
“People deserve to feel safe. Education, prevention and enforcement are all strategies that we will continue to employ and fund,” Gaetz said.
Getting prolific offenders off the streets is an ongoing strategy.
“The recent murders in Chilliwack are alleged to have been committed by someone with a lengthy record,” Gaetz said, adding there’s “at least” eight prolific offenders who commit most of the crime in Chilliwack.
“The courts must help by taking these thugs off the street with lengthy and appropriate sentencing,” she said.
For Cameron Hull the answer about safety had to do with looking at existing successes.
“To ensure safety in Chilliwack we need a three pronged plan: One, more investment in local programs that are proven to lessen crime. For example Restorative Justice.
“Two, more investment in police. With that, discussion with and direction to the RCMP as to where the resources should be used. Beat cops for example.
“Three, co-operation with Abbotsford PD. Many of the serious criminals we are dealing with, Abbotsford also deals with. We need to co-ordinate with our neighbours to help us all.”