Despite having the second largest police force in Canada, as indicated by a Fraser Institute study, Winnipeg has had a 50 percent increase in youth crime over the last five years, according to a report done by the Winnipeg Police Service in 2013.
“I don’t think we have too many police, I think it’s a question about using our resources more efficiently and involving our community a lot more,” said Brian Bowman.
Bowman believes that police officers should be involved in the community, talking to people, engaging with people and finding out their concerns.
“Our new police chief recognizes that and I know he is doing good work to move in that direction and I support that,” said Bowman.
“Having connections between law enforcement and those in the community who know what is going on in the neighborhood, will keep the crime rate down,” continued Bowman.
The Youth Vital Signs report published by The Winnipeg Foundation polled 1,864 to determine issues as indicated by Winnipeg’s youth. The report shows that youth wish to see a stronger police presence in schools and the community.
Last Thursday, at the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, questions were posed to candidates Brian Bowman, Michel Fillion, Paula Havixbeck, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, David Sanders and Judy Wasylycia-Leis about concerns the city’s youth have. Gord Steeves was absent from the event.
“It’s a terrible indication of the faith we have in Winnipeg’s police,” said Ouellette in response to how he feels about the Drag the Red project organized by volunteers of the families of missing and murdered women.
“It would be safer for police to do it,” said Ouellette.
“But police should be standing beside volunteers who are dragging the Red River,” added Ouellette.
Candidates Bowman and Wasylycia-Leis agree that collaborations between police and locals are the only way to make a difference.
“This is a good issue and a difficult one,” says Wasylycia-Leis over the concerns over the size of the police force.
The percentages of violent crimes and property crimes are down, however people living downtown still feel unsafe.
“We need to be working on a block by block approach, we need more beat police in the neighbourhoods working with teachers and families,” said Wasylycia-Leis.
Click here to see the series of CNC articles by Red River College Creative Communications students who covered the Youth Vital Signs Mayoral Forum.