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Winnipeg mayoral candidates speak on crime management

Violent crime continues to escalate in Winnipeg and is one of the major issues candidates are facing. Alex Karpa reports on how candidates plan to address crime if they are elected Mayor.

By Alex Karpa

Violent crime continues to escalate in Winnipeg and is one of the major issues candidates vying to become the city’s 44th mayor are facing.

Winnipeg has seen an increase in young offenders charged, including a spree of attacks here at The Forks over the summer and the homicide count is nearing the gruesome record of 44. So, what is the plan to tackle crime in the city?

“Central to my plan as mayor is to create a community safety plan,” said Scott Gillingham, Winnipeg mayoral candidate.

Gillingham says his proposal of a community safety plan will involve more than just police but will include community advocates, specific provincial departments such as justice and health and the fire department. His goal is to have everyone at one table discussing ways to tackle crime in the city.

Gillingham says right now, over 50 per cent of the calls police attend to in the city are not criminal calls, but social service calls.

“I will work with the province of Manitoba and other agencies to make sure health calls, and social services calls are responded to by the proper agencies so that our police officers could be freed up to do the work of policing.”

Gillingham was the chair of the police board for two years when he was a city councillor and if elected, plans to be the first mayor to be the head of the police board. But candidate Jenny Motkaluk has other ideas for the police board.

“The biggest single problem we have right now is a lack of leadership and a lack of accountability at the Winnipeg Police Service which is why I am calling for the replacement of Police Chief Danny Smyth,” explained Jenny Motkaluk, Winnipeg mayoral candidate.

“The first thing I will do as mayor of Winnipeg is make sure the Winnipeg Police Board fires that guy and we get someone in there who will show us leadership and the next thing I will do, is I am going to lobby like hell to have the province disband the police board completely so that the Winnipeg Police Service is actually accountable to the tax-payers of Winnipeg,” added Motkaluk.

The police board is a hot topic among the majority of the candidates. Like Motkaluk, candidate Rick Shone would like to see new leadership atop the WPS, saying the change is long overdue.

Idris Adelakun has promised to restructure the police board; Robert-Falcon Ouellette says he would freeze the police board’s budget during his first term as mayor and would give the money saved to community safety groups.

Glenn Murray says he wants to replace the police’s helicopter with less expensive drones. Murray is also calling for more beat officers from the WPS on city streets and establishing community safety programs.

“In some neighbourhoods, we may need 24-hour libraries, we may need 24-hour community centres, in others, we may need evenings or mornings. So, the idea would be the entire delivery of services in a neighbourhood would be tailored to the needs to the needs of the people in the neighbourhood,” said Murray.

Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and members of city council on October 26.

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