Lethbridge Opinion SCS

Is the Lethbridge SCS really straining police resources?

Last week, the Lethbridge Police Service released data for calls to service in Lethbridge. For some reason, they organized that data in reference to the Supervised Consumption Site,

Last week, the Lethbridge Police Service released data for calls to service in Lethbridge. For some reason, they organized that data in reference to the Supervised Consumption Site,

Here are two images for reference.

The first image is a table of calls for service for 2017 and 2018, and the other is a map for reference. The colours of the table rows match the zone colours on the map.

I shared a post from Lethbridge Supports Harm Reduction earlier that questions these stats from different perspectives, but there are a couple of points I wanted to highlight.

First, in speaking to the media, Acting Chief Scott Woods said the following:

“Quite frankly, we’re in that area more, which means that we’re putting more resources into that area, which means that in other areas of the city for example, or even in that same area of the city, outside it—depending on the priority of what we’re dealing with, our response times will suffer. As a result, we can’t get to some things as quickly as we’d like to. Obviously we do things on a priority system, so some of the lower level stuff is waiting longer, which is leading to some frustrations from people in the community. . . . From the standpoint of the police service, our people are starting to get tired, because we’ve been busy.”

“Significant increase” in calls for service at SCS and surrounding area strain LPS resources, Lethbridge News Now

I don’t understand this. If you look at the table, you’ll see that calls for service around the SCS have increased, but calls in the city overall have gone up by only 0.15%—less than 2/10 of 1%. The city, as a whole, saw an increase of only 52 calls in the second year, compared to the first year. That’s one extra call for service per week.

Maybe it’s just me, but one extra call for service per week doesn’t seem enough to strain resources. The LPS paid out over $1 million more in wages for their 2018 budget than their 2017 budget. Did they not spend this extra million dollars on more cops? If not, why not? I mean, if they feel strained by an extra call for service per week, you’d think using some of that million dollars for more cops might be something they’d do.

Second, It’s misleading to say that calls for service to the SCS increased by 6000% in 2018 over 2017. The building where the SCS sits now was vacant during the last 6 months of the first reporting period, and the nightclub that occupied it during the first 6 months of that reporting period was open only twice a week. So, of course there will be only 7 calls for service during that reporting period. Plus, half of the calls to the SCS originated from SCS staff, and many of those were related to the partnership agreement between LPS and Arches.

It always pays to analyze data critically, rather than using the data to justify your ideology.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I am a political economy student at the University of Athabasca, working on my second undergrad degree.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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