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Darren Boyer, May 18 2023

Local Crime Rates

‘You’re service lacks any clear reports or proof that it is any better than anyone else’s.” 

Doug was the interim CAO for big new client of ours. 

I think he liked our company and was actually trying to help us when he said those words. 

From the moment he said it, I knew he was right, and that feeling of letting down an important customer burned into me. 

This was several years ago, when I owned an IT company, and all of our vendors had these technical IT reports that were of no use to someone in his position. 

He just wanted to answer before the Mayor and management team ‘Here is why these guys are good.’ 

I’ve lost touch with Doug, but man do I owe him for the pressure he applied to me over lunch that day. 

Some time after that, I came up with this unorthodox approach. Instead of using our technical software for creating reports, I made a quarterly report using Word. 

That document had several new ideas to help Doug get the answers he was looking for. 

One idea I come up with, was to build a little table that showed how secure their organization had been, in comparison to the rest of our customers over each of the last six months. 

The results were almost magical. 

From the top management on down, when word got out that some of the people’s poor decisions were causing the entire organization to look like it might be poorly run, changes began to happen quickly. 

No one wanted to appear even a touch incompetent on this issue.

As the results became exceptional, some organizations began to take pride in ‘how security conscious’ they were as a team. 

Benchmarking eventually made every single one of our customers networks defy the normal statistics of what was possible, both in terms of security status and the amount of money needed for security services. 

This made our customer’s data more secure and reduced their downtime. It even changed how money got spent. 

I no longer had to beg and plead for more money for security related issues, or get the blame for every security breach, this little table became our secret weapon.  

It showed the rest of our clients were secure, so they could be also. 

It was one of my best experiences with benchmarking, and I’ll never forget it. 

Today, I take the same approach. I know it works! 

This time, no one hired me to build little charts. 

This is probably a good thing, because I think some of the worst offenders in the new charts I build, would probably want me fired.

Lets compare how safe some cities, towns and counties are to others to see how this works.  

Edmonton Versus Calgary

These two cities are within three hours drive of each other in the same province. 

Edmonton population:1,010,899
Calgary population:1,239,220 
Edmonton crime rate per 1,000 residents in April: 3.42 
Calgary crime rate per 1,000 residents in December (latest available): 2.71  

 Edmonton Property crime is currently 26% higher than Calgary. 

It’s not just that Calgary’s data is old. The regions around Calgary confirm this story. 

Top 5 places with the highest crime rates around Edmonton in April: 3.2 (average)
Top 5 places with highest crime rates around Calgary Average in April: .89 (average) 

The top 5 cities and regions around Edmonton had 359% percent more property crime in April, compared to the top 5 regions around Calgary.

The top 5 in Calgary were Rocky View County, Airdrie, Chestermere, Stoney Nakoda First Nation, and Foothills County. The top 5 in Edmonton were Leduc County, Calmar, Bon Accord, Legal, and Fort Saskatchewan. 

Yet crime east of Edmonton in Sherwood Park was closer to Calgary’s rate at 1.39. Spruce Grove, west of Edmonton was only 1.67. 

So this issue is not a regional problem with the entire Edmonton area, it is only certain municipalities

Crime in the Edmonton has gone way up since the middle of last year, it hasn’t always been like this.

 If other places can have a fraction of the property crime, so can Edmonton!

Eastern Alberta

For months now Bonnyville has had the highest crime rate in the province.  Cold Lake, just 50km away, has often been #1 or #2 for a city over the same period. 

Here is where they sit on the Eastern edge of the province.

It would be easy to make the excuse ‘Well that is just Eastern Alberta.  They have this or that problem and that is just the way it is.' 

Benchmarking shows those ideas are probably not true. 

The MD of Bonnyville is the rural region with red borders highlighted in this image.  Notice how it surrounds both Bonnyville and Cold Lake. 

The MD has a tremendously lower crime rate than the two high crime places. 

In fact, it often has one of the lowest crime rates in the province for a County! 

Look at this chart of crime in the region over the last four months.  

How can crime be 400-500% higher in two locations than everywhere else around them?  As soon as the criminals need a vehicle to leave Cold Like or Bonnyville the crime rate goes way down!

The cause of all this crime can’t be the police service, the laws, or even the region, as they are all the same. 

There has to be some other factor that is just in these two locations.

Grande Prairie

Where Lightcatch has the biggest support, the local crime rate is clearly lower. The County of Grande Prairie is a client of ours, and to me they are a shining example of this. 

The County usually has less than 1/2 the crime per resident than the City of Grande Prairie, yet it completely surrounds the City. 

The County of Grande Prairie also has one of the lowest crimes rates in the province. The City has one of the highest crime rates in the province. 

Here is a chart showing the crime rates per resident for the region for April 2023.

The fact that there are so often some of the highest crime rates in the province in both urban and rural locations all around the County of Grande Prairie yet the County has maintained a very low crime rate since using a program from Lightcatch is pretty exciting!

Every property owner could be getting the same benefits!  

It's the taxpayers who pay for the extra policing, insurance and damages in the high crime areas.

Since it is likely to come out of our pockets one way or another, every one of us should care a little bit about our local crime rate, and where it sits when benchmarked against other similar places.

Benchmarking starts to highlight where problems are, and it helps people own the problem enough to make a difference. 

Every month I make a new edition of The Most Dangerous Cities in Alberta and rank over 160 cities, towns and counties for property crime.   

I really look forward to the time when the ranking program expands across the country and everyone gets the same benefits.

Written by

Darren Boyer


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