According to a recent article published by Maclean's magazine, Estevan is ranked 51st on it's list of the Most Dangerous Places to Live. Topping the list at number one was North Battleford. Maclean's ranked communities according to the Crime Severity Index which measures all police reported crime. It also takes into consideration the number and seriousness of the crimes.
"They're basing it on 2016 's results," explained Police Chief, Paul Ladouceur, "and if you look at 2015, we were actually 29th and that's for overall. If you look at the overall crime severity index, we're actually 59th for overall and that includes all types of criminal offences that are tracked by Stats Canada."
Estevan had a Crime Severity Index of 95 and a Violent Crime Severity Index of 74. North Battleford's Crime Severity was 353 and their Violent Crime Severity Index was 337.
"The crime severity isn't the one where you want to be the highest, you don't want to be number one on the crime severity index, it works in reverse, you want to be the last. So we've gone from 29th in 2015 and when we look at 2016, we were actually 59th so quite a remarkable difference over the course of a year. We're pretty pleased with that."
"I think we're on the right track, we're still not where we want to be, we're far, far, far away from where we want to be. In policing, our whole focus is, we want to be last. There's work to be done, without a doubt."
He added one of the reasons for the drop to 51st is the decline in the economy.
"Oil isn't quite what it was and certainly we can't discard that but I like to think sometimes that it's due to the police work too and the work that our members are doing out there everyday."
"I think we're seeing a reduction when it comes to a lot of our criminal offences. And that's because we put a focus on a lot of those things. If we start apprehending people that are dangerous and violent in the community, that equates to less crimes committed by that individual."
"When we start looking at drugs and things like that and sending that strong message by conducting numerous arrests, there's definitely a decrease in trafficking and those types of offences."
Ladouceur cautions people against simply comparing Estevan to other communities without looking at the bigger picture.
"The thing you have to keep in mind in context too, is when we look at crime severity, we look at the number of charges that are being laid. So I'm always somewhat apprehensive because some of these are police driving charges. For example, if the police are conducting projects for weapons and guns and things and laying more criminal charges then there's more reports of firearms offences. Now your crime severity index drives up where if another community isn't putting as much attention in that area or aren't focusing on that particular area that year, you may not see as many crimes in that category."
"Is Weyburn safer than Estevan or is Estevan safer than Weyburn, if we're going to base that solely on statistics, I think that's a very dangerous place for the the community to look. Statistics can be manipulated. I'm not saying they don't help drive the picture, they are one part of the puzzle, we certainly do look at them, we take them into account but it's not the only thing we have to look at."
"The other thing we have to keep in mind is a lot of the crimes we deal with in this community are known to one another. What I mean by that, is whether it be a home invasion or a firearms offence because of a drug debt collection, these are people who have entrenched themselves in the criminal world you may say, and they are battling it out amongst one another. So this isn't random attacks that we're seeing where people are targeted at random. It still doesn't make it right, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day, we're not seeing high levels of break and enters, we're not seeing random attacks of people in our community."
Ladouceur added that the best test of safety is if you feel safe in your community.
"I like to ask the question, how safe do you feel in Estevan? When we ask that question, the comfort level is quite high in this community. People do feel fairly safe. I live in this community, my family lives in this community, my kids live in this community, and I feel safe in this community."
He concluded by saying that there is always a jump in stats whenever police start emphasizing particular offences.
"We are aggressively going after drug trafficking, we're aggressively going after violent crimes and firearms offences so you're going to see that increase. And I always say, there's a spike before there's a decrease. And now what we're seeing is that we're on the downward slide, which is great. I can't wait to see where we are next year."
Other Sasaktchewan communities that made the list:
1. North Battleford
3. Prince Albert
33. Moose Jaw
48. Swift Current
For a full list, click here.