Thompson, again for the second year in a row, is Canada’s most violent crime city, according to annual federal statistics. Since 2008 there has only been one year – 2009 – when Thompson was not Canada’s most violent crime city. That year Thompson was the second most violent city for crime in Canada.
What’s Mayor Tim Johnston’s response?
“The bad news story for me is the headline that will do more damage to Thompson in terms of creating a false impression of our community for readers and potential residents or investors then looking deeper at the reality of public safety and the social issues we face ... and talk about the positive actions not just sensationalize the same story every year.”
Frankly, it’s not so big a deal the mayor wants to shoot the messenger in this case. That’s what politicians long on rhetoric and short on real solutions do. And if Johnston thinks reporting annual crime statistics for our readers from Statistics Canada is sensationalizing the same story every year, then the mayor has a very different take on what constitutes sensationalism versus what simply constitutes factual reporting than we do. It’s not often we get accused of sensationalism based on data produced by federal statisticians. Who knew Statistics Canada could make for such sexy copy, as we might say in the business, for a story based on something called, “Table Crime Severity Index values for 239 police services policing communities over 10,000 population, 2011”?
Thompson for the second year in a row topped the Violent Crime Severity Index and finished second in both the Overall Crime Severity Index column and Non-Violent Crime Severity Index column.
Johnston thinks Deputy Mayor Dennis Fenske needs to “work with the RCMP” to do a more in-depth analysis of the statistics and “gain a better understanding of indicators that can provide direction for continued action.”
Your guess as to what that means is as good as ours. Does that mean our present and past actions have been based on not having a clue what we’re doing around crime? It’s not like there’s anything in the Juristat numbers this year council shouldn’t have known about since at least 2008.
“Further, the City of Thompson will be considering approaching the other top five communities in each category to meet and share information, identify common indicators and present possible actions to senior levels of government,” Johnston says. Perhaps the mayor thinks he’s akin to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford now wanting something like a gun summit with the premier and Prime Minister.
In fact, the mayor in his own comments to us July 25 obviated the need for yet more study of the statistics and a tête-à-tête among municipal talking heads by helpfully adding, “I can advise that it is my belief that the [high crime] communities do share many commonalities and that the stats point to the need to continue our focus on gangs, drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.”
On that we can agree.
Johnston, instead of harrumphing about the straight-forward news story headline, “Thompson remains Canada’s most violent crime city, new Statistics Canada rankings show,” might have better spent his time dusting off and re-reading a Jan. 8, 2010 study called, City of Thompson 5 Year Public Safety Plan, prepared at a cost of $12,000, by Lou Morissette, of Setting Security Consultants.
Morissette, also a former RCMP staff sergeant and MLCC liquor inspector here, as well as a member of the public safety standing committee, detailed how “Crime Reduction Teams” (CRT) and targeting “prolific offenders” could work in his 68-page plan.
“Clearly, no enforcement group can continue to manage alcohol dependant street clients without a strategic approach,” Morissette wrote in Chapter 14 on enforcement options from Pages 52 through 57.
“We know that there is a core group of individuals that are in need of medical assistance. The establishment of a ‘Harm Reduction Zone’ would also afford a means of geographically defining current street clients. This area would also provide a venue for appropriate medical triage. Furthermore, law enforcement would then have a specific zone to better contain and subsequently manage inappropriate behaviour.”