“I just want people to be able to feel safe when they go for a walk. They shouldn’t have to worry,” said Premier Heather Stefanson about her goals to bring our city and province back to a place where we can feel carefree when we go out.
While responsibility for dealing with various levels of crime falls under the purview of all three levels of government, the Premier feels strongly about the role of the province in protecting Manitoba’s citizens.
“First, we need to make sure the police have to tools need to do their job,” she said. To that end, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen recently made a number of announcements to improve access to technology and support staff for policing in Manitoba. The Premier believes that this can be backed up by community organizations such as the Downtown Community Partnership and the Bear Clan Patrol. Other strategies such as the use of the police cadets and specially appointed sheriffs could help alleviate the burden on the force in areas such as hospital waits and escorting prisoners to incarceration.
The Winnipeg Police Force is under increasing criticism due to the prevalence of crime including petty theft, break-ins, and violent attacks, as highlighted by the knifing of an innocent bystander at the Forks. That this individual was a person who had just arrived from war torn Ukraine to our province where there was supposed to be safety makes the attack all the more appalling, she says.
In July, the premier made a statement of support for our beleaguered police force. “I want to offer my unwavering support for our front-line police officers. Every single day you put your lives on the line to protect the people of our city and province. Thank you for the critical work you do to keep our communities safe and enforce the law.
She continued, “The recent crime activity on the streets of Winnipeg is deeply concerning. Let me be clear, violent attacks against innocent civilians will never be acceptable. Manitobans deserve to feel safe and protected in their community.”
The premier also notes that criminal activity is not restricted to the City of Winnipeg. The province is working with both the Winnipeg City Police, the RCMP and the other ten community police agencies in the province to find better answers. This is part of a five-year strategy initiated by the current government in 2019, and includes looking at better ways to deal with mental health and substance abuse to allow police to focus on serious offenders.