Town adds crime map to website

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BANFF – For those wondering about whether the crime situation in Banff is improving or getting worse a new addition to the Town’s website will help clarify the issue.

A crime map, which currently displays the occurrences of a number of types of crime in the townsite over the past 14 days, is now available for viewing at www.banff.ca via tabs for Community/Emergency Services/Police-RCMP.

The crime map, said detachment commander Staff Sgt. Michael Buxton-Carr, “is a tool that most RCMP in Alberta are going to. It’s an option for any community that has the RCMP as their police service,” he said.

“Basically, we use the Town’s website that people are surfing to host the map so people can look at the specifics of their own town. We put certain kinds of crime on there; basically property crimes like thefts, break and enters and missing people.”

“It updates for a 14-day window so people can see what’s happening. It doesn’t provide historical data, and it’s not so much for council, it’s so people can educate themselves. This helps people not only protect themselves and their property, but it brings awareness of hotspots so people are more likely to call us about suspicious activity.”

The map doesn’t show specific locations of crime, such as actual addresses, but will show the nearest intersection to a crime. Specific addresses are not shown in the interests of personal privacy.

For example, on Tuesday (Sept. 4), the map showed five incidents of mischief, one of theft from a motor vehicle, and five of theft over/under $5,000.

Crime data is pulled from RCMP software and uploaded for display on the map. The map is a means of sharing information with the public and engages public participation in crime reporting.

“We’re hoping it’s going to make people a bit more aware and more likely to report suspicious activity,” said Buxton-Carr.

“This is not to raise alarm. If anything, I think people will look at it and realize, ‘wow, Banff is a really safe community.’ That said, no community is immune to crime. I think if people looked at other townsites, then look at Banff, they’d realize we have it pretty good here.

“I think the education piece of it will be useful and I don’t think it will raise public alarm.”

Buxton-Carr said RCMP are also trying to raise awareness so that the public can take steps to reduce crime with simple measures such as lock up bikes and lock car doors.

“I think for a community that welcomes a few million people every year, our crime rates are quite low and we’re happy about that.”

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Dave Whitfield