Police services in Saskatchewan looking to cut down on crime might want to turn to Estevan.
Crime in Estevan is trending downward — over the past five years, it’s had the largest drop in the Crime Severity Index (CSI) in Saskatchewan, and one of the largest in Canada.
“We’re really proud of the results we’re seeing, and certainly that’s much owing to the hard-working women and men within this organization,” said Estevan police chief Paul Ladouceur.
The CSI was introduced by Statistics Canada in 2009. It measures not only the volume of crime in a certain city or area, but also measures the severity of those crimes. For example, a murder would be rated at a higher value than a theft from a vehicle.
Between 2012 and 2017 (the last year statistics are available), Estevan saw a 44 per cent drop in value on the CSI.
Ladouceur took over as Chief in 2014, but he’s unwilling to take much of the credit for the improvement.
“While the Chief can take some of the credit, the majority of the credit certainly goes to our front-line members that work very hard in this community every day,” Ladouceur said.
There are a few different things he attributes the drop in numbers to — one of which is a focus on drug crime. Ladouceur said preventing drug crime can have a trickle effect on crime in Estevan.
“Whether we see someone who had a meth addiction, or something of that nature, and now requires their next fix,” he said. “We see, often times, they will to great lengths to get that fix and that might involve anything from going through cars for loose change, all the way up to doing an armed robbery.”
He believes the largest factor in the drop though, is community engagement.
Ladouceur said he’s made a concerted effort to improve that aspect of enforcement much like a private business looks after customers.
This means inviting the public to call them with tips and information, then calling them back to thank them and let them know what was done with the tip.
“Saying ‘hey, we understand you provided this information, it resulted in the arrest and charging of an impaired driver, and thanks for keeping our streets safe,'” explained Ladouceur. “That person is more likely now to call the police in the future.”
He said without the community, the police aren’t nearly as effective. According to Ladouceur, when the city admitted there was a drug problem there, people jumped on board to help them deal with it.
In 2012, Estevan’s CSI was at 134.26, which was about par for Saskatchewan at the time, but was nearly twice the national number.
In 2017, while Saskatchewan’s number had gone up, Estevan’s number dropped to 75.72, which is still a bit higher than the national figure, but just by a few points.
While he’s proud of the drop, Ladouceur said the CSI is just one measure of success.
“We always have to be somewhat leery of statistics. And I’m mindful to the fact of, what does the community thing? You know, how does the community see us performing? What is their satisfaction? There’s so many parts to that whole wheel you have to look at to measure success — so this is just one part.”
Early next year, the Estevan Police Service is set to do a more formal survey of how the community feels about the job they’re doing. For now, Ladouceur said he gets a lot of positive feedback from people in Estevan.
“There’s not too many places I go that I don’t hear from members of the public what a great job our members are doing, and you know that’s always very proud, as the Chief of Police, when you’re hearing positive feedback.”
The drop over the past five years has been significant, but Ladouceur said the goal is to keep improving.