Brodbeck, in his Tuesday column, covers adequately the limits of a municipal mayor to tackle crime, so I won’t repeat it here.
But what’s striking about Judy Wasylycia-Leis’s ‘first piece’ crime announcement on Monday is that the two proposals didn’t substantively involve the WPS at all.
What was proffered didn’t mention any significant new innovation on how the city can interact with the WPS to free up resources, improve existing policing infrastructure or increase the visibility of the crime-prevention plans that do exist today.
What we know: Patrol officers spend a lot of their on-duty time rearresting offenders on breaches of prior bails, orders or releases. That in turn limits their time on duty as they’re filing paperwork for someone they just arrested a week prior.
Is there an initiative that city hall could propose that would help deal with this?
If Katz can take credit for the creation of the Street Crime unit [spun out of the Operation Clean Sweep task force in 2005] then, could Judy W reasonably expect to create ‘a unit of her own’ to deal with one of the most pressing crime problems we have?
Probably, I’d guess.
A ‘court enforcement’ unit, perhaps? Hire more administrative (non police) staff to handle the paperwork?
Crime-prevention programs are fine, but they avoid hitting the heart of the issue.
You can’t fix a larger problem without fixing the smaller parts first, if you plan on using the same materials to fight it.
There was also no talk from Mrs. WL-L on Monday of the three crime problems Winnipeggers have told the service time and time again they want something done about.
They are: break-ins, auto theft and vandalism. Since 1999, police surveys of the general public have identified these three issues as people’s most pressing concerns.
So far this year, residential break ins are up five per cent, according to CrimeStat.
CrimeStat doesn’t account for vandalism.
And auto theft — attempts and actual thefts — continues to drop.
Why is that?
Because the, WPS, the city and province decided to innovate and set up a program in 2005 (the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy) that looked closely at the data (who was stealing cars, where and when) and mobilized dedicated resources from all aspects of ‘the system’ (cops, crowns and probation officers) to address the problem.
It’s been incredibly successful. Winnipeg has gone from a strong #1 nationally in car theft to #3. It’s taken time and effort, but it has worked.
There’s no reason a similar approach can’t work for other types of repeat, chronic offenders.
And no reason a mayoralty candidate can’t come up with one.