Crime stats ‘just plain incorrect,’ says Langley City mayor

Murders that happened in Townnship, but were attributed to City skewed statistics

A police officer kneels down for a close-up look at the scene of the 2011 Boxing Day shooting in Walnut Grove.

A police officer kneels down for a close-up look at the scene of the 2011 Boxing Day shooting in Walnut Grove.

Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender says statistics released this month designating his town as the crime capital of Metro Vancouver are “misleading and just plain incorrect.”

“These statistics that were generated have no relevance to what’s happening on the streets of Langley City,” said Fassbender. Crime has actually gone down year after year.

“This was an academic exercise used by the Vancouver Police to say ‘Gee, we’re not the worst, someone else is.’”

The report Fassbender is referring to is the The Crime Severity Index put out by Statistics Canada. The CSI was introduced in 2009 to measure not just the volume, but also the seriousness of crime.

In the report, it showed that Langley City had two murders in 2011. In fact, one took place in the Township and the other was on Kwantlen First Nation land.

Kwantlen elder George Antone, 71, was killed on the reserve on McMillan Island.

During Christmas, 38-year-old Jeremy Bettan was shot dead while standing in his Walnut Grove driveway.

That shooting was gang-related, said police.

No arrests have been made in either case.

But putting two murders in a city of 27,000 shot Langley City way higher in the standings for violent crimes, putting it well above towns like Abbotsford, Coquitlam and the Township.

“They don’t even verify their own facts, that makes it frustrating,” said Fassbender about incorrectly attributing the two homicides as being within the City borders.

The CSI ratings are reached by looking at a community’s crime stats and assigning point values to each type of crime. For instance, homicide is considered to be the most serious of crimes and has a point value of 7,042, whereas a B&E is 187 points and a theft under $5,000 is 37 points. So one homicide is equal to 38 B&Es or 190 thefts, pointed out Langley RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke.

In a letter he forwarded to The Times, he said he was “surprised” Langley City was cited as worst for crime and decided to look into the CSI further to understand where the numbers came from.

To get the real truth, Fassbender and Cooke ask residents to look to the quarterly crime reports provided by Cooke at council meetings. These also appear on the Langley RCMP website.

“I can say without hesitation that our police are doing a very good job,” said Fassbender.

Part of being effective is making arrests, which will boost the amount of crime being recorded.

“If you catch the bad guys you are filing a charge which will then show up on the crime index,” he said.

“At the end of the day what our citizens need to know, is our community safe? Yes.”

He contends City life isn’t perfect, but defies anyone to find a community that is.

“Yes, we have drug deals and break and enters and an increase in theft from auto, but show me any community that doesn’t?”

He wants residents to share in the responsibility of keeping the community safe by continuing to be the eyes and ears of police and to not leave items in a car that attract thieves.

Nearly a decade ago, Langley City claimed the notorious title of being the car theft capital of North America. How those statistics were arrived upon also could have been population-based, but it did begin a large campaign to go after career car thieves and increase Bait Car tactics.