Edmonton police chief says a lot of property crimes are ‘meth-driven’

EDMONTON — Property crimes were up in Edmonton last year — an increase Edmonton’s police chief credits to meth use.

There were 24,399 property crimes reported to Edmonton police in 2019, which represents a 4.5 per cent increase from the year before, a report to the Edmonton Police Commission on Thursday showed.

Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee said a lot of the property crime, which includes break and enter, theft from vehicles and of vehicles, comes from drug use.

“A lot of that’s going to be meth-driven,” McFee said. “It’s property crimes, drug habits to support. And that property crime is important that we get a handle on that. It’s not something that we can say, ‘Property crime is less serious.’

“Ultimately, you know, the violence is more concerning.”

DELAYS IN RESPONSE TIMES

EPS responded to 173,587 calls in 2019 — a 2.2 per cent increase from 2018. However, police said that bump was expected due to the city’s annual population growth.

The increase in calls was seen in theft from vehicles, trespassing, fraud and mental health complaints.

Priority 1 calls — where a crime is in progress and a person is at risk — were responded to under the seven-minute target 69.8 per cent of the time, compared to 72.4 per cent the year before, the report shows.

Those numbers dropped to 46 and 59 per cent in southwest and southeast Edmonton, respectively.

“When somebody is in a crisis, we need to get someone there now, not an average response time,” McFee said. “If we’re going to try to be the safest city in Canada … then average isn’t going to get us there.”

Targets are being met for Priorities 2 and 3, but only 45.8 per cent of Priority 5 calls — general service — were responded to within the three-hour target.

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