ALMAGUIN – The statistics are in, and crime is on the decline in Almaguin.
During the second quarter of this year, spanning April 1 to June 30, assaults in Almaguin decreased by 22 per cent over the same time last year dropping from 27 to 21. Mischiefs dropped from 35 to 25, break-and-enters, dropped from 24 to 16.
“Traffic is also showing decreases,” said Almaguin Highlands OPP Staff Sgt. Stacey Whaley.
Impaired driving charges are up 27 per cent and motor vehicle collisions are down 30 per cent.
“Our violent crime is fairly consistent and the majority of our violent crime is domestic related,” said Whaley. “There aren’t a lot of prevention strategies that we can incorporate.”
Whaley says if the incidents stemmed from a local bar, it would be possible to incorporate strategies, such as getting a liquor inspector involved, however when the crime is in the home it is hard to develop a preventative strategy.
“The best that we can do is make sure the victim is looked after, making sure Victim Services are engaged, and make sure we’re doing our best to prevent that from happening again,” he said. “And investigating it thoroughly to make sure there are consequences to that.”
He says there is a theory that crime tends to go in trends.
“Sometimes, if we can get significant convictions and significant conditions on certain people, property crime is going to go down,” he said. “In April of 2011 we went to 24-hour coverage.”
Whaley says their crime abatement program is also helping, which tracks a list of offenders on conditions, including things like curfews, communication, substance related conditions. He says members of the community are signed officers who do regular conditions to ensure that those offenders are abiding by their conditions.
“It’s a crime prevention strategy and it’s a very proactive approach to dealing with our known offenders,” he said.
Property crime also dropped, with the exception of theft-over incidents.
“Theft-overs, to put it into perspective, went from three to four, which is one,” he said.
At the halfway point in the year the Almaguin Highlands OPP are reaching, and in many cases, exceeding their crime targets.
According to Whaley, they have a 99 per cent clearance rate on violent crime, which means that out of 73 incidents investigated, 72 of them have been cleared by charge or otherwise.
“That basically means that the offender is known and the person has been charged or warned,” he said. “Warned could mean that, in anything other than domestic, the victim didn’t want charges laid.”
Whaley says that it could also mean that alternate action may have been taken, such as school suspension. However, he adds that the one outstanding occurrence does not mean that the offender is not known.
He says 99 per cent is good, and the business plan that was presented to area municipality targets a 95 per cent clearance rate on violent crime.
The property crime clearance rate is at 33 per cent at 53 of 159 incidents cleared.
“The reason, as I explained to the municipalities, there are not a lot of who-done-its in violent crime,” he said, adding in violent crime occurrences the offender is generally known by the victim or they are able to identify the accused. “Property crime is a little tougher.”
Whaley says the property crime goal as a region is set at 30 per cent, however it is set at the detachment at 35. The 33 per cent falls in between those two goals.
Whaley says despite their successes he is still concerned over the number of people who are drinking and driving.
“I think that people aren’t getting the message. Laws are tighter now and tougher,” he said. “People still take their chances, which isn’t smart.”