REGINA -- Regina saw a significant drop in its crime numbers in 2020.

Chief Evan Bray is pleased with the drop, but he is hesitant to celebrate.

"I have to think COVID-19 played a role in that," Bray said. "There’s probably a lot of different ways that COVID played a role in that, but ultimately people’s behaviour was a lot different in 2020 and that caused crime rates to look different."

The total number of crimes against people and property dropped by almost 30 per cent compared to 2019, according to the Regina Police Service’s (RPS) monthly statistics.

The RPS is reporting a 4.3 per cent decrease in crimes against the person and a 34.4 per cent decline in crimes against property year-over-year to close out 2020.

"We’re going to look to support the police service in being vigilant as we come out of COVID," Mayor Sandra Masters said. "We’re really, really pleased with what they’ve been able to accomplish during COVID."

Attempted murder, sexual assaults, level one assaults, robbery and kidnapping/forcible confinement all saw a decrease year-over-year, while level two and three assaults and criminal harassment/stalking increased 4.2, 16.1 and 14.3 per cent, respectively.

There were two more murders in 2020 compared to 2019, however RPS has had a 100 per cent clearance rate on homicides over the past three years.

"Each homicide is a huge tragedy in our city and so every time we can hold offenders accountable, give a family some answers and as importantly, some closure on some of these serious cases, it’s extremely important," Bray said.

Crimes against property was where Regina saw its largest decline with almost every crime dropping by double digits in 2020, except for arson, which increased by 28.3 per cent from 191 in 2019 to 245 in 2020.

Bray said that can be attributed to two individuals.

"We did a major investigation that was led by our arson investigator who ultimately was able to make an arrest and lay 40-50 arson cases were attributed to one or two people," he said.

Cell phone charges saw a 78.5 per cent decline with 421 tickets handed out in 2020 compared to 1,962 in 2019, while impaired driving charges were up by a little more than 12 per cent.

Drug crimes were up just over 18 per cent, which is another issue RPS is continuing to work on as drug overdoses reached record highs in the city over the course of 2020.

Bray said RPS’ drug units have seized hundreds of thousands of dollars of drugs, money and illicit substances over the past few months, which limits the supply coming into the community, but more needs to be done.

"As long as we thousands of people that still suffer with a serious drug addiction, it doesn’t solve the problem, they’re going to find other things," he said. "We have to dig into the ways that we can help those types of people."

Mayor Masters believes it is going to take federal, provincial and municipal governments and community organizations working together to get the overdose issue under control.

"The more and the stronger bridges we can build into those levels of government and even into other municipalities and join forces on best practices and everybody coming up with ideas to figure out what’s going to work," she said. "The police are instrumental in how that gets delivered."

Monday’s meeting was the first for a new look Board of Police Commissioners after citizen and people of colour representation on the board was increased by Regina City Council late last year.