EDMONTON – It’s an area of the city many perceive to have a high crime rate, but according to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), the downtown core has seen a significant drop in crime over the past five years.
“We’re seeing reductions across the board,” said Constable Dexx Williams.
According to statistics released Tuesday, the property crime rate in the downtown core has dropped by 69 per cent since 2007.
“Property crime has seen the largest drop – so theft from vehicles, theft of vehicles, break and enters- have all plummeted significantly,” Williams explained. “And even our violent crimes – from robberies to assaults – have also dropped by 22 per cent.”
The drop in crime is partly being attributed to proactive policing. Over the past several years, the EPS has increased its presence downtown and has partnered with a number of community and social agencies in hopes of increasing safety.
“This taking the time to form partnerships and be proactive and then looking at the statistics over five years and saying ‘hey, this works’ has been a real eye opener for us all,” said Jim Taylor, Executive Director of the Downtown Business Association (DBA).
“We always have this perception that downtown isn’t safe,” Taylor explained. “And the truth of the matter is – and these statistics are proving it – that downtown is one of the safest places you can be.”
The ongoing downtown revitalization effort has also helped reduce crime, and those who call the area home are taking notice.
“They’re building condominiums, they’re building cultural centres, and it’s just having a very positive impact on the demographics as well as the makeshift of the community down here,” said Mike, who has asked his last name not be published.
“I think that part of the revitalization of the core means that there’s more people around more often, which means it’s harder to commit crimes,” said Kathy Watton, who has lived in the downtown area for nearly 15 years. “Between the influx of people and the influx of pride, I think that that helps.”
Now that they’re seeing results, the EPS and DBA say the work isn’t done. They hope to continue the proactive approach in the years to come, to even further reduce the crime rate.
“The more uniformed members we can bring into downtown division, the more effective our policing will be,” Williams explained. “We want to attract more businesses, we want to attract more residents, and in order to do that we need to make sure that people feel safe, that they feel comfortable attending central Edmonton.”
“I don’t know that anybody was really a believer when we started doing this, but we’re all believers now,” Taylor explained. “You just can’t argue with the results. Proactive policing works.”
The overall numbers gathered by the Edmonton Police Service can be seen below:
With files from Ross Neitz, Global News.