Perception vs Reality on downtown safety
Safety is the top concern when people think of downtown and the perception of that safety comes in varying degrees. Is safety and crime confined to the downtown area? No, crime occurs all over the city. In fact, the incidents of crime in the downtown core have been dropping over the last 3 years.
The more vibrant and busy a downtown core is, the more people are on the street resulting in increased safety. Take the recent Grey Cup Festival for example, people were out on the streets at all hours with no fear for their safety.
To gauge the safety perception level the City of Calgary's Centre City Implementation Team conducted a citizen perception survey in the fall of 2009. Citizens were asked about Centre City infrastructure, living in or visiting the area, and how safe and clean they felt it was. They were also asked about transportation to, from and within the Centre City.
Of those surveyed nine out of ten Calgarians said they felt safe alone during the day (8 am to 5 pm) in the Centre City — whether that was walking on sidewalks, visiting parks, driving, waiting at bus stops or LRT stations or travelling on river pathways.
This is great news as the perception is coming in line with the reality. Calgary Police Service statistics show crime in our Centre City is going down. In fact, the decline has been happening steadily over the past 3 years. There has been a 21% reduction in person crime, a 32% reduction in property crime and a 26% reduction in disorder events.
Other safety initiatives occurring downtown:
- 62 foot patrol beat officers joined the ranks in District 1
- installation of 16 surveillance Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in three downtown locations
- new LRT station platforms on 7th Avenue incorporate Crime Prevention Through Environmental Designs (CPTED) principles — improved sightlines and lighting
- individual Transit Peace officers have adopted specific LRT stations and will become subject matter experts — allowing them to work with the community and participate in crime management initiatives
- Calgary Police Service homelessness strategy will provide "wrap around services" — police officers teaming up with outreach workers to assist in identifying and locating high risk homeless people for immediate intervention
This increase of highly visible patrols working with business owners and addressing concerns about issues around LRT safety should help alleviate the public's apprehensions regarding downtown safety.