Downtown safety in Saskatoon a police priority

Police say beat cops on foot and bicycle are helping keep the city's downtown safe.

Cops know the hotspots

Police say keeping the downtown safe for everyone is their main goal. (CBC)

Police say keeping Saskatoon's downtown safe starts with knowing what's-hot and what's-not.

Anticipating troublespots is basic policing.

And Inspector Mitch Yuzdepski is big on basics.

"We encourage our members to be where there's going to be a lot of people," said Yuzdepski.

Inspector Mitch Yuzdepski
"We try and encourage our members to be present, to be visible, to be accessible to the public during those times."   

So where will you find beat cops?

Bars at closing time.

Movie theatres.

Festivals.

Yuzdepski is the top cop in Central Division, the policing territory that includes the downtown core. For the past five years, he says police have made a concerted effort to let people know officers are on the street.

Identifying hot spots

People will see officers strolling through bars and businesses.

They'll be cruising through alleys.

Checking out high-traffic automated teller machines.

"You'll see traffic unit members, either in marked units or unmarked units, floating through the division. You're gonna see bike unit officers, there's four per shift, and then there's a couple of beat officers that work in the downtown as well," he said.

And Yuzdepski says it's paying off.

Property crimes are down almost 13 per cent over the past five years. In that same period, the number of crimes against people are effectively the same. This, even though the number of people living and working in the downtown has gone up.

"Despite the fact that the population is growing, the dynamics of the downtown is in my view getting much busier, crime is not rising despite our downtown is becoming more vibrant," he said.

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