The new year starts off with some good news from the Abbotsford Police Department.
Most people are already familiar with the key highlight – a dramatic drop in gang-related violence in 2010.
From a deeply disturbing 11 homicides in 2009, the city recorded only four last year. The number of serious “shots fired” incidents dropped 65 per cent, from 17 in 2009 to six in 2010.
The police can take much of the credit for that, with the arrests of several high-profile gang members, and intense pressue on the rest.
There are other positive indicators. Business break-ins down 38 per cent; total property crimes decreased by seven per cent; violent crimes down by 10 per cent; theft of motor vehicles off the previous year by 14 per cent.
Home break-ins went up, however, stressing the need for the same focus police placed on gangs, including ramping up the wattage of the spotlight on prolific offenders, and the pursuit of programs that change their lifestyles and behaviour for the long-term.
More boots on the ground is an important factor in policing, but as progressive law enforcement managers know, and we have seen, sustained control and reduction of crime requires sophisticated thinking and strategies.
Partnering with other social agencies, and particularly, the public, is also critical.
A community fully engaged in crime prevention, and participating in initiatives to steer young people away from a life of crime is a powerful tool. Considerable efforts are being made in those areas by Abbotsford police.
In terms of crime reduction measures, this city is on the right track.
As for a worrisome increase in the number of traffic fatalities in 2010, the public is once again key to improvement. The police are not behind your steering wheel – you are.