On Thursday, Peterborough Police Service (PPS) Chief Stuart Betts announced that they are launching a new unit dedicated to tackling property crime in Peterborough. The program is called “Community FIRST,” which stands for “Focused, Investigation, Response, Support, Team.” The unit is scheduled to launch Jan. 8, 2024.
The program will consist of teams of two officers, working between the hours of 7 a.m. and 12 a.m. every day, whose sole mandate will be to focus on property crimes.
“Property crime: That’s your shoplifting, your theft, theft from cars, stolen property. Those are the types of high-volume, low-value, types of crimes that are really annoying to people, quite frankly. They affect and awful lot of people in our community, but they take a lower-priority to those crimes where someone is injured, or that have a violent component to it,” says Betts.
This program is, in part, a response to “community need,” according to a PPS media release. The release includes statistics to reinforce that there is a need for this unit: it reads “over the past five years, Peterborough’s non-violent crime severity index, which includes property crimes, has gone up just over 28%.”
The PPS media release includes property crime-related statistics for the third quarter of 2023, which Betts used to show the severity of non-violent crime in Peterborough. He shared that there were 56 stolen bicycles in this time period, for example.
In the announcement, Betts stated multiple times that this program cannot exist long-term without their requested budget increase for the 2024 budget, which is currently under review by Peterborough City Council. The PPS requested a budget increase of 15.3 per cent more than last year, with a plan to hire more officers.
“That was part of our ask for that budget: to be able to sustain a unit like this. It reinforces the messaging that with more, we can do more,” says Betts.
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