Winnipeg’s mayor says the rate of violent crime in the city is way too high.
A Statistics Canada report last week that ranked Manitoba near the top of the list for crime severity — and as the province with the highest increase — is something we need to change, Scott Gillingham told 680 CJOB’s The Start.
“We have to drive the Crime Severity Index down. It’s too high in Winnipeg,” he said.
“Sometimes the calls for (police) service are so high…. We need to work in partnership so when there’s social services calls, our officers are not going. We really need to make sure that those partnerships are available so that we can get social services agencies to social service calls.”
Local business owners have called for action from municipal officials over public safety concerns, stemming most recently from the shooting of a convenience store employee who tried to stop a shoplifter.
John Graham from the Retail Council of Canada told Global Winnipeg last week that businesses across the board have seen more violent crime lately.
“These are incidents that are the worst nightmare for retailers and those that are investing to create safe environments for shoppers and for their employees,” Graham said.
Recent violent crime in Winnipeg reignites demand from business owners for urgent action
Earlier this month, the city announced a new two-year safety plan, with a $10-million price tag, to tackle safety issues in downtown Winnipeg.
The plan includes more CCTV cameras — 75 of them — as well as the addition of 24 new downtown-based officers, enhanced lighting and a centralized crime prevention hub.
The mayor said another area that is being worked on is safety on and around Winnipeg Transit, and while there are transit security officers on the horizon, handling bus incidents could also involve social services more often than Winnipeg police.
“We’re right on track to have transit security officers — community safety officers, is what we’re calling them — on buses and around bus stops by the end of this year,” the mayor said.
“The community safety officers will be making sure they de-escalate situations, make the bus stops secure, make the buses secure and safe as well for transit users and the transit drivers.
“These will be highly trained individuals, and we expect they’ll be calling 211 to get help for individuals who need social services help as often as they’ll be calling 911.”
Gillingham said the city is in the process of hiring a project lead who will oversee the hiring of safety officers.
Manitoba earns grim rankings on national Crime Severity Index
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