Couple of notes:
Since we know that 3,500 of the reports filed with the Winnipeg Police Service’s Missing Persons Unit each year involve kids involved in state care, what are we going to do about it?
I can’t say for Manitoba’s elected officials, but this morning, I discovered what Texas Judge David Cobos might do.
Slap GPS ankle bracelets on them.
You can read about Cobos’s “experiment” to combat chronic truancy in Midland, Tx., but really, it need be no more complicated than the above italicized line suggests.
Imagine the financial cost and waste of police resources these 3,500 kids rack up each year as officers scramble to locate them.
It’s huge. And faced with an apparently “soaring” violent crime problem, Winnipeg needs these officers to deal with that situation, first.
Although lately, there’s been fewer of them, not a week goes by that a press release from the WPS pleads with the public for help finding one of these vulnerable runaways, who are at risk of being exploited by dealers, pornographers and pimps.
The service has taken steps to start charging people who harbour these kids and in some cases deliberately put investigators off the scent.
Now let’s take another step and force the most chronic runaways to wear location devices.
It has to cost less to do this than it does to pay police officers to run around after them.
In an interview on CBC’s The Current this morning, Cobos said the American Civil Liberties Union has not even muttered about his experiment, which he says has reversed truancy trends and brought up grade levels.
We put GPS anklets on select teenaged chronic car thieves because of the danger they pose to the public when out of jail.
So it’s not much of a stretch to tweak the argument and say that if a youth poses a danger to his or herself, then the monitoring is required.
The great thing about technology (and GPS tracking is not anyway close to cutting edge or expensive) is that it’s adaptive to needs.
Kind of like how the law is supposed to be.
Next logical step: Fine CFS.
Each time a chronic runaway vanishes and prompts a search by city police officers, the agency responsible for looking after them pays a fine. If police can establish that “X,” a ward of “Y” consistently runs away, then that establishes a pattern of lack of oversight.
That lack of oversight should result in a cost — and that revenue should be returned to the WPS for the cost of locating the youth.
We pay handsomely each year for CFS to provide for a growing number of children. And without getting into the equally handsome lack of public oversight the ministry enjoys, the glut of runaways is an indication that there’s a lack of appropriate oversight for them.
That must be penalized in some fashion, or there’s no incentive for change.
One judge in one American state realized there was a problem and used his authority and the tools available to him to try and correct it.
But here — in the face of serious, expensive problems and a lack of creative solutions — we’d strike a committee, have endless meetings, reports and consultations before we take action, I’d bet.
One month before 2011 is set to begin, The Winnipeg Police Service officially releases its annual report for 2009.
Oddly, they’re also holding a press conference for reporters to discuss, ask questions about and dissect last year’s news.
I’ll save you the trouble. There’s none to be found in it. Well, almost.
Problem is it’s unfair to claim this data as reflective of anything because it’s so old.
Once again, the report notes police spend a lot of their time going to domestic disturbances. It’s far and away the patrol officer’s #1 job.
Homicide clearances are the same as in 2008, at 81 per cent. So, roughly 1 in 5 go unsolved. Not bad, given the gang problem in the city.
Two other things jump out: (see chart)
1] The number of firearms/offensive weapons crimes jumped 46 per cent over 2008 — what appears to be a jump of about 200+ occurrences. A reflection of how much more potentially dangerous the city’s become — not just for the public — but for police officers as well.
2] A spike in robberies of 30 per cent, with a clearance rate of 29 per cent.
Robberies, however, were up 30 per cent last year over 2008.
That’s concerning, as robberies are frequently identified by the general public as a crime they are greatly concerned about. They should be.
In 2007-08, we saw a drop in robberies of about 16 per cent, but the clearance rate remained the same.
Arsons were also up in 2009 — by 35 per cent — but the clearance rate a slim 16 per cent.
The year before that, arsons jumped by a whopping 58 per cent, but the clearance rate was standing at about 26 per cent.
The thing that jumped out at me the most from last year’s report, however, has to be this statement:
Analysis has revealed that about 70% of the 5,000 missing person reports managed each year by the WPS are wards of child protection agencies. Many of these youths are chronic runaways, some with more than 150 police contacts. Research and experience has taught us that these chronic run- aways are frequently victimized, criminalized and exploited by predators while on the run from child- care facilities.
That just says to me the province is offloading its responsibility to care and watch over these kids to the police service and the city.
More must be done to supervise them, or the province should be kicking in more to pay for apprehending them.
Better yet — one thing the province could do is detail some probation officers to a quasi missing persons unit to head out and look for these kids. Would cost less and free up police officer time to bust robbers and gun-traffickers, instead of babysit.
But, who knows. It’s year-old news. Maybe everything’s changed since the dawn of 2010.
2009_wps_annual_report_english – PDF is 2+MB in size.
PS: I did love this picture in it to accompany the page describing the “investigative” units:
The suit-wearing suspect just says something to me, I guess.
In what was one of the more bizarre police incidents this year (at least of the ones we hear about), an Alberta man who managed to steal a traffic cruiser in Winnipeg while handcuffed and smash it into a concrete wall while kicking at a cop will spend the next 3 1/2 years as a guest of the federal government.
In fact, the total sentence Torben Timothy Campbell received for the April 23 incident was four years — but that includes the penalty for a separate incident where an RCMP officer was tossed to the road after he reached inside Campbell’s car to grab the keys during a traffic stop.
Apr. 23, 2010: Campbell is sitting in the driver’s seat of a rental car in an Alexander Avenue back lane being, uumm… pleasured by one of Winnipeg’s many sex-trade workers.
When the cops — riding in a traffic cruiser — pull in behind the vehicle and catch Campbell and the woman in the act, they approach the car and ask him his name.
He gives them a fake one.
In order to sort out the story, Campbell is handcuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the unmarked. As police talk with the prostitute, Campbell manages to slip the handcuffs underneath his legs so they’re now somewhat usable in the front of his body.
He climbs through the divider-less section between the front and rear of the police car and begins to drive off.
One of the officers manages to jump into the passenger seat to try and stop him – for which he’s treated to kicks.
The car travels about 150 metres until it smashes into a concrete fence.
When the officers yank Campbell out of the car, he continues to struggle. One of them puts a baton under his throat and begins to squeeze.
“If you don’t stop now, I’ll squeeze so hard your eyes will pop out,” the officer says.
Campbell gives up, but he keeps on some bizarre tirade even while being treated at HSC. At one point, he makes some reference to having killed as many as 40 people.
It’s later determined that he’s high as a kite, and becomes “semi-comotose” during a videotaped police interview.
The drug: crack cocaine.
Just a few days before getting nabbed in Winnipeg, Campbell was pulled over by an RCMP officer on the highway. He told the patrol cop he was headed from Alberta to Kenora. A check of his ID doesn’t add up.
A CPIC check on PROS shows Campbell’s in a vehicle registered under someone else’s name while under a court condition to not be in a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.
The officer goes back to him and asks him to turn the car off.
“I don’t think so,” Campbell says.
The officer asks nicely one more time and then reaches into the vehicle to wrest the keys from the ignition.
Campbell accelerates, sending the Mountie to the roadway and speeds off at 130 km/h.
The above two events are Campbell’s 4th and 5th dangerous driving convictions, respectively.
—above from court transcript of sentencing hearing Nov. 22, 2010 in front of Judge Lynn Stannard.
How much crime takes place there?
And is there the possibility that a $1 lightbulb costing pennies a day to light up could have prevented it — or at least, helped the police in their efforts to nab a suspect?
I think a night time lighting survey of the city’s high-crime areas may be in order.
Until then, I leave you with this, from the good folks at the Toronto Star:
The TPS also provides a handy primer on CPTED, one of the more progressive areas of policing. Winnipeg police have 2-3 CPTED experts on the service (last I checked in early 2009), but their skills and knowledge are seldom — if ever — talked about.
CPTED primer is here: cpted
It looks as if one of the city’s most notoriously violent rooming houses goes under the microscope — or something like it — on Monday.
In the last three years, I’ve been at 624-626 Balmoral St. more times than I can count on both hands. Not to buy crack, but to take in the latest (usually drug-fuelled) mayhem du jour there.
Usually the headline looks something like this:
And then the lede:
A 27-year-old man is in critical condition after being shot at a notoriously violent rooming house in Winnipeg early Wednesday morning.
You could wallpaper the entire place with the amount of police tape that’s been used there in the past little while. But, judging from the pictures above, the decor is not exactly top-of-mind for the owner or people who have lived there over the years.
[UPDATE: Here at this link is a TV piece by CBC Manitoba’s crime reporter Gosia Sawicka. Money quote regarding the former owner: “Things weren’t changing so he gave up.”]
In the span of just a couple of months in 2008-09, two people were killed at the rooming house. I may have lost count of the other episodes of mayhem, but here’s the quick rundown of the homicides. If I’m not mistaken, there was another not too long ago. Just can’t quite remember it.
On Nov. 8, 2008, Philip Mayur was stabbed to death on the second floor. The 39-year-old man had arrived in Canada from Africa in the late ’90s and made his way from Ontario to Winnipeg. Media reports said Mayur was the father of four children.
On Dec. 4, police announced the arrest of two men in connection to Mayur’s death. The suspects, aged 26 and 42, were charged with first-degree murder, meaning police believe the killing was planned and premeditated. Their cases are still before the courts.
Last January, Valerie Paypompee, 36, was fatally stabbed in a suite on the second floor of the building. Police allege her boyfriend killed her during a domestic dispute. Paypompee, who was from Shoal Lake, Ont., was Winnipeg’s second homicide of 2009.
Mulugeta Geddy Gillamichael, 34, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with her death. Gillamichael, originally from Ethiopia, was committed to stand trial in Court of Queen’s Bench in November, but no trial dates have been set.
City inspectors finally got a clue or a tip that something was wrong there, went in on Sept. 22 and found — gasp! — major structural problems with the place. They’re threatening to sue or even have it closed down under the livability bylaw:
The specific Order stated:
• 624 – Head clearance on the west side stairs leading to the 2nd floor is 171 cm • 626 – 3rd floor stairwell head clearance is 158 cm • 626 – 2nd floor stairwell’s head clearance is 165 cm
1. Section 50(c) – Ensure that the stairways have a minimum head room of at least 195 cm, measured vertically from a line drawn through the outer edges of the nosing.
• 626 – 3rd floor stairwell is 27 cm wide
2. Section 52(1)(b) – Ensure habitable rooms in attics or partial storeys will have stairways leading to the dwelling must be at least 75 cm wide and must not be inclined to an angle of more than 50 degrees from horizontal and must be provided with a minimum clearance height of 180 cm measured vertically from a line drawn through the outer edges of the nosing.
Compliance date: November 5, 2010
The owners are appealing [the work was to be done by Nov. 5] and will have to appear in front of Gord Steeves and the other members of the city’s protection and community services committee to voice their objection and ask for more time.
In a letter notifying the city of his appeal the owner says he’s owned the building less than a year and has been hamstrung by debt to pay for repairs. He does, however, say he’s hoping to save enough to install cameras that will somehow help residents and neighbours feel safer.
Give him a year, he says, and he’ll be “more open to considering” doing such major structural work.
At the end of the day, however, what would probably make everyone feel safer is if the poor souls inside were cleared out and the entire block was bulldozed.
Here’s hoping that’s what Steeves et al. decide to do.
We should be ashamed that people are even allowed to go within 10 feet of the entranceways given what’s gone on there over the years.
The A4-A5 spread in Friday’s Winnipeg Free Press is worth reading, and re-reading, and then reading again.
First, with the civic election now over, the focus now shifts to the upcoming federal byelection in Winnipeg North.
As it was in the municipal contest, crime appears to lead the debate in the area, just in a more oblique and less tangible way. The recent shootings that claimed two lives is the hook.
Mia Rabson quotes CrimeStat stats that state in the last month alone (taken to mean Sept 29 to Oct 29 2010) the riding has been “the site of at least three slayings, more than a dozen sexual assaults, several shootings and countless robberies and assaults.”
Remember: the Winnipeg North riding is not the same as the electoral ward of Mynarski or North Point Douglas. [Map provided, click to enlarge] Crime Stat won’t measure by anything other than police district, electoral ward or precise neighbourhood. Neither does the public view of CrimeStat denote assaults.
The federal catchment area is huge, much larger than what we’d consider the North End.
“The riding includes the neighbourhoods of Jefferson North, Mandalay West, Maple Glen, Garden City, Jefferson, St. John’s, Inkster Faraday, William Whyte, Dufferin, North End, Burrows Central, Robertson, Selkirk, Mynarski, Northwood,Shaughnessy Heights, Lord, Tyndall Park, Garden Grove, Oak Point, Inkster Gardens, Luxton, the south part of The Maples and the north part of Logan CPR in the City of Winnipeg.”‘
But for the purposes of this article, we’ll tabulate the available police-provided stats (homicides, shootings, sex assaults, robberies) from the following defined neighbourhoods: St John’s, Burrows Central, Lord Selkirk Park, Inkster Faraday and William Whyte.
These make up the big bad North End most people would refer to in terms of the “crime-riddled North End.”
The 30 days of data that was available to people via CrimeStat for the last month from today stemmed from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27, 2010.
Total: 2 homicides (Beardy and MacDonald), 28 robberies, 4 sex assaults, 2 shootings
A year earlier, same period:
Total: 0 homicides, 25 robberies, 1 sex assault, 5 shootings
So, from this, we see that for this 30-day period, crime appears slightly up year over year, but realistically, not up by much. Shootings are down; robberies are statistically at the same level. The rise in sexual assaults, however, is concerning.
So, we have a scary scenario that plays out last Saturday. Three shootings — two fatal— happen within about a 35 minute span. The assumption being made (see page A5 of today’s WFP) is that a single individual (either masked or in a ninja costume) was behind all three.
Police haven’t said as much and are wisely keeping their options open.
Anyhow, despite a jarring and unprecedented warning from the WPS for people in the area to remain in their homes and not answer their doors to strangers directly after the shootings, police quickly locked down the crime scenes and flooded the area with officers.
A mobile command centre is set up in the area a day and half later.
Over the next few days — continuing as I write this — there are scores of police officers in the North End proper, either shaking down potential suspects, scouring for leads in the shootings or otherwise keeping a lid on things.
So, naturally, given the heightened level of police presence and vigilance [more officers = greater safety, remember ; ) ] My eyebrows raised up when I read, re-read and read again the remarks made by would-be NDP MP Kevin Chief in Rabson’s article:
Chief knows first-hand what crime has done to the neighbourhoods of Winnipeg North, where he has lived all his life.
“I live three streets over from one of the (shootings),” he said.
Chief and his wife welcomed their first child three weeks ago, but despite some pleasant weather since, they haven’t taken their son out in the stroller for a walk.
“There is no way we’re taking our son for a walk in these circumstances,” said Chief.
Chief said there are things that can be done immediately, like improved street lighting and a heightened police presence.
For a week, police have been crawling all over the area. On the scanner, every two seconds they seem to be spot-checking people, responding to calls.
Chief says he has lived in the area all his life.
Is it a surprise to him that statistically, the level of crime hasn’t changed in two years — and it could even be said it’s dropped in terms of the number of shootings.
But a man who wants to be an elected member of the federal government — wants to lead and represent people who live in a very troubled area — says the current “circumstances” are keeping him and his family indoors. He wouldn’t dare head outside.
To me, that’s got me scratching my head.
The message from leaders, (would-be or elected) should be:
We’re not going to let the thugs, the degenerates and the reprobates keep us cowering inside or homes. We’re going to rise up and start calling police, the powerline — whatever — if we’re seeing suspicious stuff or crimes taking place.
‘The police are doing their part, now we can do ours,‘ is what I’d be expecting to hear if I was voter in the area.
The last lines of the article also had me scratching my head, but a slight smile on my lips.
Conservative candidate Julie Javier was canvassing Thursday and could not be reached for an interview.
Nice to know not everyone’s afraid to go outside.
Chief’s right about the lighting, tho.
Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go.
[they do not move]
A sincere and hearty congratulations to Mayor Sam Katz on his reelection in Winnipeg.
The people have spoken, and the people are never wrong.
But judging by the immense social-networking chatter and coverage in both newspapers this morning, all eyes are now on Katz to deliver over the next four years.
I mean, really, check these three articles out if you haven’t yet:
@bkives had a really fascinating (to me, anyways) piece on Katz’s transformation from a self-described non-politician to a savvy one fully enamored with political life.
But dark clouds loom for Katz on the horizon, Dan Lett suggests:
Despite assertions that he is the mayor of infrastructure and public safety, both have continued to suffer during his six years in office. The infrastructure deficit — the total amount of work needed on our roads, bridges and sewers for which there is no funding — continues to grow. City facilities like arenas and community centres are falling apart at the seams. And despite having weathered the recession better than almost any other province in the country, social dysfunction and crime in Manitoba continue to rage. It’s a win, but the problems facing this city constitute solid proof that Katz’s main planks — hiring more cops and snuggling up to the Winnipeg Police Association — are not a panacea for reducing crime.
We’ll have to see where he gets to in the next two years, and he’s earned that right at the ballot box.
But I have a feeling that, unlike in years past, there’s going to be more scrutiny on City Hall and the Mayor’s office than usual.
Remember the following, because this is what Katz ran on:
The Mayor outlined his proposal which would see:
Winnipeg, September 17th , 2010 –Mayor Sam Katz today announced he will create a $1 million Community Centre Renovation Fund dedicated to renovation projects for city-owned board-run community centres. Funding will come from dedicating 15 % of total City land sale proceeds, amounting to approximately $1.2 million/year.
Winnipeg, October 5th, 2010 – Mayor Sam Katz today announced that he will commit an additional $1 million to add operating hours, new programming and security to Inner-city and North End community organizations. It will also go to fund the hugely successful JustTV, developed by the Broadway Neighborhood Centre (BNC).
Winnipeg October 13th, 2010 –To promote the cleanup of downtown and make it safer, Mayor Sam Katz today announced a Downtown Surface Parking Lot incentive aimed at encouraging redevelopment in the downtown.
The program would work the following way:
A surface parking lot assessed at $200,000 and would be paying $2,000 in municipal property tax. If that same parking lot was redeveloped into a commercial property assessed at $2,000,000, the municipal property tax for the new commercial property would be $20,000.
Under this incentive taxes would be frozen at its initial rate for 5 years, with phased in increases over the next 3 years.
Winnipeg, October 14th, 2010 – Mayor Sam Katz today announced he will implement Recycling Depots to reduce waste in our land fills and increase recycling. A one year pilot project in collaboration with Versatech Industries Inc. would see five depots located throughout the city in every community committee area, provide employment for individuals living with intellectual disabilities, and promote greener recycling practices while providing community organizations the ability to fund raise while making our city cleaner and greener.
Winnipeg – October 20th, 2010 –Mayor Sam Katz today announced he will more than double the existing city-wide street closure budget as well as commit in-kind services up to $57,000 to expand the hugely successful “Lights on Broadway” from one day to up to four Saturdays, and provide annual support for the popular downtown festival, “Ciclovia.” This announcement continues to build on the Mayor’s efforts to ensure we do everything we can to encourage Winnipeggers’ to come downtown.
Wisely, Katz didn’t commit to a revenue strategy, and the voters didn’t care.
Wisely, he refused to say just how he’s going to get a share of the PST and still keep property taxes frozen, and voters didn’t care.
The promise of 58 more police officers weren’t costed out for the public, and the voters didn’t care. (We’ll now never — ever — really know if this comes true or not, BTW)
He largely deflected criticism over transparency (some of it totally unfair) and voters didn’t care.
1] A concurrent and unifying theme in Winnipeg’s alternative media: Over the past few months, there’s been an esprit de corps among Winnipeg bloggers, social-networkers and (dare I say it) select members of the mainstream media. While many seem to have their own leanings in terms of the issues, I’m going to miss the diversity of opinion and criticism surrounding the mayoral and candidates (non)campaigns.
2] #wpgvotes on Twitter: I guess tomorrow it would be safe to start #mbvotes, given the provincial campaign machinery will now be grinding forward (federal byelection excepted) — especially, I hope, for the Progressive Conservatives. They have a lot of policy work to do to garner people’s votes and imaginations in 2011, I think. Anyhow, #wpgvotes was a good time. See ya in 2014, if anyones still using Twitter.
3] Daily doses of sarcasm from @bkives in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press and elsewhere.
4] Commentary like today’s Winnipeg Cat. Enough said. But, my own contribution appeared the other day, a proud moment for me…
5] Former police department mucky-mucks weighing in on the platforms. Funny how both Cassels and Zacharias are opposed to Katz. Interesting stuff, if one properly considers the source. I found Cassels’s comments and endorsement interesting — if not somewhat jarring or unfair — given that the landscape of crime in the city has so drastically changed since he was chief.
6] Someone, please buy Brian Kelcey a drink as a reward for all the intelligent banter!
7] Having to spell Wasylycia-Leis at 20 times a day for the last month. Even if she’s mayor after tonight, That ratio should drop considerably.
8] Probably my most favorite thing about this election — and it’s my bias, I admit — has been hearing the content of the crime debate. Winnipeg has a problem. I’m just not so sure we’ve heard that the leadership knows (or will admit) what the problem actually is. Disheartening, but at least it frames one’s expectations. Lingering question raised by Menno on Tuesday: Why hasn’t Katz — or better yet, Scott Fielding — trumpeted the CCTV project?
10] Public candidates forums. I love watching them and attending them.
Perverse, I know.
Now go and vote, if you haven’t already.
And may the WPS quickly catch the North End’s Saturday Shooter.