Response to comments regarding Calgary Herald report on increase in crime in New Brighton

Passion can serve as a great tool in a community by its members. However this week, through social media, an individual chose to take passionate exception to a news article and elected to lash out at the Calgary Police Service and my office as a result of a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived blemish on our ward, our city services and my term as Alderman.

In this instance, it was a personal, or political, reaction to a Calgary Herald article reporting on crime statistics which compared two similar, but very different statistics; the average crime in each community spanning 2005-2009, and the actual crime reported in each community in 2010. In this case, the result indicated an increase of over 200% in crime in New Brighton.

The Calgary Herald article that this is referring to represented two different statistics. One (2005-2009) was a five year average of the specific communities; the second was a snapshot of one year (2010).

What is missing from the Facebook comments (see below) is that the number, the 200% increase, is based on the average crime rate from between 2005-2009, and was compared to the crime statistics in 2010. At face value that increase does appear drastic, however, in any statement one must look at all variables of the issue that so that you can completely understand the numbers, the history and any editorial commentary, that is provided or absent.

Three glaring issues arose from the Calgary Herald article that should be noted are:

  1. The 200% increase does not take into account that the population of New Brighton in 2005 was just over 1,200 residents. In 2010 the community grew to 6,075 residents, an increase of over 500%. One would predict or assume that the level of crime in turn would grow proportionately as the community grows.
  2. Taking averages into account, one could assume that if a community has 1,200 residents in 2005, the rate of crime would be lower compared to the following year. The reported incidents in 2005 would be drastically lower than what that of 2009 and therefore, the 2009 number would be much higher than 26.2. One could assume that if 2010 had 88 reported incidents of crime the 2009 statistic would not be much lower than 88 and therefore not a true 200% increase.
  3. The types of crimes that were committed should be considered. Crime in any nature is an issue to Calgarians, however, in communities that are in the midst of construction growth, an influx of non-residential construction crimes can be noticed. Theft of construction materials in fledgling communities is different than residential theft to property and person.

Of the established neighbourhoods in ward 12 that have completed their growth, in terms of their physical development, many of the communities have had a minor change in their statistics. Communities such as New Brighton are still in their infant stages of development and likely won’t be fully established for some time.

In 2005, the community of New Brighton was home to 1,206 people, compared to the 6,078 people who resided in New Brighton in 2010. As the Calgary Herald indicated, it is focussed on the average of 2005-2009 and compared to that of 2010; here is how those numbers break down:
  • Average population of New Brighton from 2005-2009 – 2,948 residents
    • 26.2 incidents of crime were averaged during the period of 2005-2009
  • Population of New Brighton in 2010 – 6,078 residents
    • 88 crimes were reported during this single year

If you look at the increase in population between the two statistics (1,206 residents in 2005 and 6,078 in 2010), the Community of New Brighton has seen a population increase of more than 500%. Just as the community expands one would expect the incidents of crime to increase as well.

With any statistic there must be a comparison with other communities to see the city as a big picture, rather than an isolation of fledgling community as it grows.

As a snapshot without having the full background, it may seem that this number is considerable, until you consider the background and how this amazing community has grown since 2005.

The criticism of the fine work done by the Calgary Police Service, the Community Liaison Officer and the Office of the Alderman for political gain in any public forum has very little to do with the level of service and overall crime statistics and more to do with knee-jerk reactions to headlines that serve to detract the overall sense of safety and well-being that Calgarians enjoy.

The passion by this community leader in the Facebook post does an excellent job at bringing to mind the need for residents and neighbours to be vigilant and get involved in their community, but, without analyzing the facts, those criticisms do little in the way of bringing a sense of community feeling and working to solve the issues.

www.calgary.ca/CSPS/CNS/Documents/…/ward_12_profile.pdf – 2006-2010
www.calgary.ca/CSPS/CNS/Documents/…social…/new_brighton.pdf – 2005

Facebook post from October 23, 2011

Wendi Roy-Moore

I am TOTALLY disgusted … Just read in this morning’s Calgary Herald that our community has had an increase of OVER 200% in crime reported. We are one of only a FEW communities with this problem. What are our police services doing to help us out? What is, or can, our Alderman do in helping this situation? Apparently nothing… I guess our problem is we don’t have enough shootings or gang related activity to warrant help by the police.

LikeUnlike • • Share • Yesterday at 8:58am • Shared with: Public

Christine McConnell don’t blame the Police…….it is the people that live there! I am a supporter of Policemen and women…you try their job…not easy very hard and like every profession there are good ones and bad ones….The father and grandfather of my children are policemen and until you walk a mile in their shoes and deal with what they deal with daily you might re think your statement.

Yesterday at 9:05am • LikeUnlike

Wendi Roy-Moore It isn’t the people that live here that are always to blame. We have a police liaison officer for our community that is to help us in dealing with community crime prevention methods, etc. and yet we have a liaison officer that has been reassigned, has not been visible at our community meetings and has not provided crime statistics for our community (as asked) over a period of six months .. so that we, as a community, can pinpoint the problem and work with the community to ensure crime stays down. Our Block Watch community program has been put in disarray, as the organization is now being rebranded and we get no help from them .. so, tell me, what more, as a community can we do if we are not aware of how high the crime rate is if our police services does not make us aware of the problem, so that we can work as a community to bring down the crime rate? We have made the police aware, many times, that we have a suspected drug house just a few doors down from us, yet, I don’t see any real police activity in our area to close it down. We ask for updates on these things, yet, because we have a liaison officer that is a no show at many meetings ( and now we have a new one that has not shown up to meetings yet) how can we get updates????? So, yes, I do blame the police .. to a point … for not keeping us informed and helping us as a community with the tools we need.

Yesterday at 9:13am • LikeUnlike

Christine McConnell How about we agree to disagree on this one ….so easy to sit an assume how things work at the Police Department when you are looking in from the outside

Yesterday at 9:18am • LikeUnlike

Wendi Roy-Moore I totally agree on your assessment. I do respect what the police do on a daily basis, don’t get me wrong on that one, it’s just as a community resident here in Calgary, we are encouraged to report crime, work vigilantly to educate our neighbours on what things bring on criminal activity, etc. but when we try to get things solved and our community police liaison reps are not there to help with those things, we, as outsiders, tend to feel very frustrated and then move on to the anger mode where we then begin to wonder what the police are doing for the regular folk (ones not involved in criminal activity). So, I think the police do a VERY commendable job as a protective force, we just feel very frustrated when it come to other crimes like B&E’s and yet we aren’t always made aware of just how much is occuring.

Yesterday at 10:09am • LikeUnlike

Bill Jarvis Hi Wendi – 88 crimes for 2800 homes isn’t that bad. Only 3% of homes affected. You could live there for 33 years without an incident. The problem with the Herald presentation is that it compared current crime stats with a 5 year avg when there were far fewer homes in New Brighton. Compare your total incidents to some other communities with declining crime rates, and I guarantee you’d still much rather live in New Brighton.

19 hours ago • LikeUnlike

Wendi Roy-Moore Oh no doubt Bill. My concern is the lack of community tools/support we are supposed to receive from our CPS Liasion officer.