Canadian Security Magazine

Winnipeg police chief reallocating officers to deal with surge in crime

By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press   

News Public Sector crime homicide police winnipeg

Winnipeg’s police chief says officers are being reallocated to different duties to help the city deal with increased violence and property crime.

“Our community is reeling, really, and our organization is reeling here. A lot of people just can’t make sense of what’s going on right now,” Danny Smyth said Friday.

“The level of violence, the level of property crime—it’s bad. It’s alarming for all of us.”

There have been 40 homicides in Winnipeg so far this year—one fewer than the 2011 record. Eleven of those occurred in the last 30 days.

One of the most recent was the death of three-year-old Hunter Haze Straight-Smith, who was stabbed multiple times as he slept in his bed. His mother’s on-again-off-again boyfriend has been charged with second-degree murder.

Hunter was full of love and joy and wanted to be a policeman when he grew up so he could help people, an obituary said.

Smyth said the number of homicides has put a major strain on police resources.

“We can’t keep scrambling the way we have been,” he said.

“We have never had this many homicides in such a short period of time so it’s kind of strained the physical abilities of people.”

Additional officers are being assigned to the homicide unit to address a backlog. Officers are also being moved from other areas to general and foot patrol downtown.

Smyth said that will mean fewer resources for the traffic division and crime prevention initiatives. It also means fewer officers doing checkstops during the busy holiday season.

Smyth added the measures are temporary.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister had separate conversations this week with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the violence.

In a Thursday evening tweet, Trudeau thanked Bowman for a phone call and said they will continue working together to reduce violence in Winnipeg.

Pallister, who had a pre-scheduled meeting with Trudeau in Ottawa on Friday, said that while violent crime is down overall in the province, there’s concern over the number of homicides in the capital. He pointed to different initiatives, including a Winnipeg Police Commission report expected in the coming weeks.

“I’d like to see the federal government partner with us to make our streets safer,” Pallister said.

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