MHPS unveils downtown patrol initiative for the summer

By Taylor Chartrand
May 16, 2019 - 8:38pm

MEDICINE HAT, AB - Starting June 5th running through September 13th, residents of Medicine Hat will notice an increased police presence in the downtown core.

This operation will be known as the 'downtown patrol initiative', as a way to mitigate nuisance crimes in the area.

"Based on some feedback we've received from the community and some of the crime trends we've noticed," explained Inspector Brent Secondiak. "We've reallocated one of our units, our Priority Street Crimes Unit, to focus heavily on the downtown core this summer."

Secondiak said the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) conducted a community-survey two-years ago and found that generally, people weren't feeling safe in the downtown core.

"We've heard many concerns from the business owners through the chamber that relate to issues within the core. So, we thought this would be a good strategy to combat some of those issues or perceived issues."

And some of those perceived issues would be:

"Public urination, drug use, drug trafficking and alcohol consumption."

In addition, half of the officers mandate will be to liaise with those who live and reside downtown, as well as the business owners.

"We're hoping this initiative eases any perceptions of increased crimes in the downtown core." 

Secondiak said police did an analysis on the calls from the downtown core, compared to the rest of the City, and they were generally the same.

However, there was a higher rate of 'nuisance calls', which led them to specifically focus on downtown for the summer months.

Secondiak believes this is the first time they've had any sort of foot-patrols like this in the area over the last 30-years.

"That will be their primary mode of transportation. They'll park their vehicle downtown and they'll walk in that core." 

And members of the police service will have a decent amount of area to cover.

"It'll be basically from North Railway Street, over to 5th avenue (4th and 5th ave.), down to River Road by the provincial court building and just up into the southeast hill, Aberdeen Street area." 

Depending on the situation, Secondiak says residents may notice police in standardized uniforms or you may not notice them at all, as officers could be dressed in regular street clothing.

"Normally, they'll have their standardized police uniform on, but there may be times depending on what they're working on, they may go plain clothes."

As specified earlier in the article by Inspector Secondiak, the priority street crimes unit will be reallocated, meaning someone will have to look after the property files, high-risk offenders and offender accountability cases.

"So, to mitigate that, we've re-assigned our patrol team because they may not be in the downtown area as much. They will have to take care of those files."

Four members of the Priority Street Crimes Unit will work one day shift and three night shifts in conjunction with the High Visibility Response Team.

City buildings and services closed for Victoria Day