RCMP numbers show a drop in property crime, increase in homicides in 2020

by Stephen Dafoe

A focus on repeat offenders, vulnerable communities, targeted enforcement, and following crime trends led to improved crime numbers in 2020, Alberta’s RCMP says. 

All Four RCMP districts operate Crime Reduction Units made up of seasoned police officers, criminal analysts, and civilian staff who target repeat offenders most impacting communities. 

 The 2019 Crime Reduction Strategy included the launch of Project Lock-Up, an intelligence-led program that let RCMP and citizens work together to respond to repeat victims of property crime. Top-targeted properties experiencing the highest crime rates dropped by 55.4 per cent from March of 2019 and April of 2020. 

 Provincially, for the 2020 calendar year, there was a 17% decrease in Break & Enters from 2019 and a 19 per cent decrease in Theft of Motor Vehicles. Theft Under $5,000 saw 7,852 fewer cases, a 22 per cent drop, from the previous year. Overall, RCMP numbers showed 14,230 fewer Property Crime offences and 21,285 fewer Total Criminal Code offences in 2020. 

 “The Alberta RCMP recognizes that crime rates inevitably fluctuate, rising and declining over time,” said Superintendent Peter Tewfik, Officer in Charge, Alberta RCMP Crime Reduction Strategy. “While the nature of crime cannot be controlled, the RCMP can account for the plans it has in place to manage it. As Alberta’s provincial police force, we are confident that our Crime Reduction Strategy is making an impact and yielding positive results.”

The RCMP has not said how the COVID-19 pandemic may have factored into the change in crime numbers. 

 Homicides See An Increase

The Alberta RCMP Serious Crimes Branch (SCB) released their year in review on Tuesday, stating SCB employees succeeded with various criminal investigations by bringing those responsible before the courts.

While general crime was down in 2020, the Major Crimes Unit (MCU) saw a record high of 66 homicide cases in 2020, an increase of 11 from the 44 in 2019. The unit also conducted ten death or missing persons investigations.  

The RCMP’s General Investigations Section (GIS) provided support to detachments in more than 200 cases involving assaults, sexual assaults, attempt murder, and other serious matters. Investigators also provided wrap-around service to victims of child abuse. In 2020 officers conducted more than 1,400 child interviews.

The Missing Persons Unit (MPU) was involved in investigating 4,452 missing persons reported in RCMP jurisdictions. Of that number, the MPU reviewed 2,344 files and was directly involved in a total of 809 cases. Fourteen remain unfound.   

“The services provided by the SCB are available to all RCMP detachments across Alberta and, in some cases, other law enforcement services within the province,” said Superintendent David Hall, Officer in Charge, Alberta RCMP Serious Crime Branch. “The unique and specialized expertise that the SCB brings to policing in Alberta is critical to the safety of our communities.”

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