So who exactly is responsible for ensuring the safety of the citizens of Winnipeg? Is it the Minister of Justice? Partly. Is it would-be-Premier Andrew Swan? * Maybe, if he wins the leadership race. Is it the Winnipeg Police Association? They seem to think so.
There is no shortage of people lining up with the ‘answer’ to gang violence in Winnipeg. Yesterday the Province announced its long awaited gang strategy. Other than perhaps the ‘awareness strategy for parents’, nothing much seems to have changed. Please tell me there is more – there must be more, right?
All of this, however, begs that question “who is charged with the responsibility of law enforcement and crime prevention in Winnipeg?” Who should be proposing cutting edge approaches to dealing with gang issues in Winnipeg? Perhaps the Winnipeg Police Service?
The Winnipeg Police Service was represented when the government made its gang strategy announcement. Their role, however, was largely to serve as wallpaper at a provincial news conference. This is a Winnipeg issue and it should be addressed by the Winnipeg Police Service.
There is an old adage that says if you don’t know how to do your job someone will tell you how to do it, if you don’t do your job someone will do it for you. We have some experience with that in Manitoba. In the aftermath of the Taman Inquiry the East St. Paul Police Service was disbanded and replaced by the RCMP. There is no fear of that happening to Winnipeg. There are, however, other more subtle ways for the provincial government to exert its influence over municipal policing: the formulation of policing strategies for municipal police departments being one.
* Andrew Swan has since withdrawn form the leadership race.