The Estevan Police Service has received $300,000 in Targeted Police Initiatives funding from the provincial Corrections and Policing department, through the Ministry of Justice.
The funds will be directed towards three existing officers on the force, including the EPS's school liaison officer and two organized/serious crimes officers, said Police Chief Del Block. Those officers are part of a proactive, community-based policing initiatives to help reduce crime.
The growth that Estevan has experienced has been positive, Block said, but the EPS has been challenged with an increase in call load, criminal activity including violent crime, and drug activity.
“The Estevan Police Service has set new records for the past four years,” said Block. “These records are based on statistics that are collected by Stats Canada, and not just our own stats.”
The increase in crime has shifted the EPS from being a pro-active to a reactive police force. Government funding, along with the addition of several new police officers, allow the force to meet challenges and keep Estevan safe.
Block said the police service has seen benefits of targeted policing, as the number of drug related crimes was down last year.
“We have continually seen rises in drug activity and enforcement through 2009, 2010 and 2011, but I have just completed the annual report, and for the first time last year, we have seen the drug activity drop,” said Block.
“Have we beat the drugs in Estevan? Absolutely not. They're there, they're going to continue to be there, and we're going to continue fighting them.”
Mayor Roy Ludwig noted that Estevan's police officers are busy every day and night, and they look forward to the day when crime will be down in the city.
Councillor Kevin Smith, who is also the chair of the Estevan Board of Police Commissioners, echoed Ludwig's comments, and applauded local officers for their efforts.
Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles said that targeted police initiatives help reduce crime.
“Crime remains a constant concern for our government, and we are pleased to work with communities on programs and initiatives to reduce crime,” said Estevan MLA Doreen Eagles.
Eagles noted in 2011, the provincial crime rate dropped three per cent. The youth crime rate is four per cent lower than it was 10 years ago.
“Connecting police and communities often leads to higher levels of confidence, co-operation and higher levels of trust to police in communities,” said Eagles.