On the whole, this summer’s crime statistics for Jasper show declining numbers across the board.
Compared to last year’s stats for July to September, liquor charges are down 20 per cent, disturbing the peace charges are down by 38 per cent, theft under $5,000 is down 20 per cent and the number of false alarms has decreased by nearly 50 per cent.
“The really big decrease is in robbery, harassment and threats,” said Sgt. RCMP Dave Maludzinski, during his presentation to council last week. “They’re down 60 per cent from the same quarter last year. That’s the lowest they’ve ever been since before 2006.”
Although 60 per cent sounds like a large number, in 2010, between July and September, there were five charges laid under robbery, harassment and threats, while this year, during the same quarter, there were two.
A more tangible comparison is that of disturbing the peace. During the same quarter last year, there were 45 charges, while this year there were 28.
Maludzinski said the numbers show that the RCMP’s enforcement efforts in the core area of town, namely Patricia Street, are making a positive difference.
“By what I can see and what the stats are showing is things are improving substantially.
“It’s been a really good quarter. From what we’ve talked about the last couple times I’ve been here, the number of offences we’ve been dealing with have been continually on a decline from the highs in 2008. In 2008 we got to where it was getting pretty high crime and ever since 2008, we’ve been seeing declines in everything.”
One area that caused Maludzinski some concern is the number of traffic collisions. There were 88 this quarter, up from 80 in the same quarter last year.
“The one thing that I’m trying to reduce in Jasper is the number of motor vehicle collisions,” he said. “Unfortunately, disappointingly, they’re up and yet our traffic enforcement is way up.”
Coun. Gilbert Wall, who is also a member of the fire department, noted that although the number of crashes is up, the department noticed that there were far fewer serious collisions this summer.
“So maybe even though we’ve had a few more collisions, maybe the serious nature – because enforcement is higher – is a little bit less,” Wall suggested.
“I just thought that with the amount of enforcement we’re putting out there on the traffic side of things, that I would see that number go down farther,” responded Maludzinski, who also noted that although the number was up this quarter it is still significantly lower than the same quarter in 2009, when there were 114 collisions.
Coun. Rico Damota suggested that the increase from last year might be associated with the increase in gate traffic coming into the park – a cause Maludzinski said he hadn’t thought of, having not seen the gate numbers.
Maludzinski said whatever it is, he would assume the collisions are being caused by people who are not used to the roads.
“I would probably attribute a lot of that to drivers from outside of Jasper, not necessarily Jasper drivers.”