Crime in Winnipeg up 11%* in 2015


The numbers in this post are  based on the 10 crime types tracked by the City of Winnipeg Crimestat program between January 1 2015 and December 31 2015.  

* The original version of the post represented crime numbers  up until December 28th 2015.  

 

City Wide Highlights

The Good

Murders are down by 19%,  with 22 compared to 27 in 2014.

Attempted theft of motor vehicle is down 10%.

Sexual assaults are down 4%.

The Bad

Theft of motor vehicle is up 3%.

Non-commercial robberies (muggings) are up 3%.

Shootings are up 9%

Break and enter other (stand alone  buildings) are up 10%

The Ugly

Residential break ins are up 19%.

Commercial break ins are up 22%.

Commercial robberies are up 36%.

 

District 1

District 1 saw an overall increase of 15%*.  The  increase can be largely attributed to break ins other (57%), residential break ins (29%),  attempt theft of motor vehicle (17%) and theft of motor vehicle (12%).   Most other categories were static. On a positive note murders dropped by 50% to 7 from 14 in 2014.

District 2

District 2 saw an overall increase of 20%*, led by commercial break ins (51%), commercial robberies (21%), break and enter other (18%), residential break ins (15%), and theft of motor vehicle (17%).

District 3

District 3 was the only district that saw a drop in crime, down 5%*.  Attempt theft of motor vehicle was down (22%), theft of motor vehicle down (19%), break and enter other down (16%), commercial break ins down (14%).  Commercial robberies were up (44%), as were sexual assaults (29%), and residential break ins (14%).

District 4

The increase in District 4 was 16%*.  The biggest factors contributing to the increase were commercial robberies (83%), commercial break ins (50%), residential break ins (20%) and non commercial robberies (10%).

Downtown

The area defined as the ‘Downtown’ saw an increase of 6%.  The offences that pushed the numbers up in the downtown area were primarily break and enter other (143%), and residential break ins (32%).

Observations

  1. Residential break ins were up in all four Districts ranging from 14 to 29%, with a city-wide average increase  of 19%.
  2. The number of stolen vehicles went up in all districts except District 3 which saw a reduction of 19%.
  3. Break and enter other increased in all districts except District 3 which saw a reduction of 16%.
  4. Commercial break ins  went up 22% city-wide but were reduced by 14% in District 3.

Questions

  1.  What, in policing terms, was done differently in District 3 compared to the other three Districts in 2015?
  2.  Were a significant number of personnel assigned to the other three Districts shifted to  District 3?
  3. What steps will the Winnipeg Police Service be taking to address the significant increase in the number of break ins and robberies?

A future post will provide a further breakdown of crime by Electoral Wards, as well as a look at  some specific neighbourhoods.

*Update

The statistics in the original post which covered the period from January 1, 2015 to December 28 2015 have been amended to correspond to what currently appears on the Crimestat site which included the last 3 days of 2015.

The changes made are as follows:

City wide rate changed from +9% to +11%

District 1   from +12% to +15%

District 2 from +18% to +20%

District 3 from -6% to -5%

District 4 from +15% to +16%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you afraid of the Winnipeg Police?

The following is a quote from a recent article by Marc Montgomery:

Critics of the “creeping militarization” say when police appear more and more often in body armour and military clothing, with automatic weapons and armoured vehicle, it creates distance and fear between the population and the forces.

Members of the Winnipeg Police Service wear body armour on a daily basis, carry semi-automatic pistols, have access to an array of weapons and now have an armored vehicle. That begs the question;

 

Don’t Like the Gurkha, so sell it.

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I have observed the discussion about the Winnipeg Police purchase of the Gurkha armoured vehicle with both amusement and concern:  Amusement because all the usual suspects, those being sociologists, and the media have  neatly filed into place and have said exactly what they would be expected to say:

1) that this is another step forward in the militarization of the police;

2) that  the process was flawed and lacked public input and transparency;

3) that  the Police Service pulled a fast one on the Police Board;

4) that the operational need for an armoured vehicle has not been justified;

5) that it is too costly.

 

And concern, because the Police Service has done a poor job of providing background information and justification for the purchase.

One might ask the question: Where were all these people who have concerns about militarization and costs  when the Police Service launched its air force?

I agree that in a day and age where Police Boards provide oversight of police departments, the process used to acquire this piece of equipment was perhaps less than politically astute.  The result is that the Police Service has lost the ability to make purchases of this type in the future.

As well, I have yet to hear any really sound arguments being made by the Police Service other than in general terms as to how this piece of equipment will add value.  The Police Service was probably caught flat-footed on this one because they had no intention of this becoming a public discussion at this point in time.  There probably is a communications strategy in the process of being developed to deal with this issue and justify the purchase but I’m surmising it was not intended to be used until some point in the future, so it was not fully developed and ready to go at this point in time.  They should however have anticipated that the purchase of an item such as the Gurhka could not be kept under wraps indefinitely and been better prepared to deal with it when the information became public.

All that being said the question remains, can this purchase be justified as an operational need?

As a former police officer, I am personally aware of discussions for the need of an armoured vehicle that go back 30 years – long before ‘militarization’ had become a buzz word.  The situation that gave rise to the discussions was an armed and barricaded scenario in St. Boniface where a man shot his entire family and then barricaded himself in a house, armed.  Police were faced with a situation where a young child had been shot but was still alive, laying in the front yard with no means to safely perform a rescue.  Since that  incident there have been many others, perhaps not as dramatic but still of a nature where some form of armoured vehicle would have served a very useful purpose.

I would suggest that if the Police Service scratch its collective memory they could provide a long list of scenarios that would justify the need for an armoured vehicle even in the minds of the most jaded opponents.

In terms of cost, although $350,000.00 seems like a big number when amortized over the predicated useful life of such a purchase, it amounts to less than $20,000.00 a year.

Deployment

Although I personally do not support carte blanche  militarization of policing I do support the purchase of military type equipment in situations where the need can be justified for operational reasons.The devil as always  will be in the details.  The manner in which this piece of equipment will be deployed will show the intent of the Police Service and could go a long way to silence the critics.  If it is rolled out willy nilly, however, the police will run the risk of losing public support.  It should be used in situations where its use can be operationally justified.

Political Will

If this is really seen by the Police Board, the Mayor, or City Councillors as an example of the police overstepping their authority and acquiring a piece of equipment that either the police don’t need or that they philosophically disagree with, let them step forward and justify their position and then sell the damn thing (I dare you).  There is a market out there for these types of vehicles.

 

 

The Whistle Blew, Was Anyone Listening

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We know from the Quebec experience that even in a sophisticated developed country like Canada, some politicians at the municipal level engage in fraudulent activities for personal gain.

Over the years some Winnipeg contractors have bemoaned the fact that some company owners and contractors have had a too close and cosy relationship with civic politicians and senior civil servants in the area of property development.

A parcel of land may have a very low value based on how it is zoned.  If a zoning change or variance can be obtained the price of a given parcel of land can greatly increase in value overnight.

Zoning changes and variances are obtained through civic standing committees usually based on the advice of senior officials in the administration.

Then there is the whole issue of awarding city contracts which greatly broadens the field of play into areas such as  water and waste, road and building construction, snow clearing, garbage and recycling pickup and a host of other soft services such as consulting contracts which the city regularly enters into.

The problem has been that business owners and contractors have been  loath to come forward and file formal complaints because many rely heavily on city business for their livelihood.  They have not been confident that a complaint would result in the required changes, and they cannot afford to be black-balled.

Based on media reports it would appear that we are now in a position where a number of people with apparent knowledge of alleged wrong doing have come forward to police.  Naturally police need to establish the credibility of the individuals coming forward and  assess the validity and reliability of the information they are providing.  If the individuals are credible and the information passes the initial test, there would appear to be a basis to initiate an investigation.

Lets hope that the appropriate approaches were used to ensure this matter was dealt with properly and that an opportunity was not lost.

Corruption at any level of government undermines both democratic principles and the workings of a  free market economy.  All available steps must be taken to investigate and prosecute corruption.

Muggings in District 1

Between January 1st.  and October 9th. there have been 520 muggings in District 1.  That is an increase of 4% over last year.

This is what it looks like on a map.

Source:  Winnipeg Police Crimestat website

A close-up view of the immediate downtown area looks like this

Source:  Winnipeg Police Crimestat website

Can you say ‘crime cluster’?

Personal Video Recorders

Several companies such as Taser and Vievu are selling small personal video recording  (PVR) devices designed specifically for police use.  These small cameras are very durable and are capable of recording extended police/citizen interactions.

These cameras serve two main purposes:  they provide video evidence police can use in the prosecution of charged persons, and they assist police managers in monitoring police behaviour.

A few major American police departments such as Cincinnati and Oakland have adopted the use of personal video recorders by its members.

The American experience has shown that police managers and unions don’t see eye to eye on the use of PVR’s.  They are especially appealing to police managers  who are dealing with a high volume of allegations of police misconduct.  Police unions are worried that management will use video footage against officers.

In Seattle where the police department is being investigated by the Justice Department for alleged misconduct,  a City Councilman is lobbying the mayor to include money in the 2012 budget to conduct a PVR pilot project in Seattle.  He hopes that such a pilot project would provide a more complete view of police encounters with the publicand that it would improve police behaviour.

The American experience has shown that the implementation in Winnipeg will in all likelihood require extensive negotiations with the Winnipeg Police Association.

The Winnipeg Police Service has 1 million dollars set aside in the Capital Budget  for PVR’s.  The priority of capital budget items can usually be judged fairly accurately by how often they get pushed back into the last year of the capital budget cycle.   For example, last year the expenditure was slated for 2015 in the final year of the cycle.   In this year’s Capital Budget it has been moved back to 2016.  In Winnipeg this is obviously not considered a priority.  It will be interesting to track the Capital Budget for the next several years to see if this proposed expenditure ever becomes a high priority.  Or will it be moved back year after year?  Or even perhaps eliminated or converted to some other use?

Does Money Buy Happiness?

Are You “Very Happy” With the Police Services You Receive?

When polling firms conduct public opinion surveys they attempt to quantify and qualify their results in terms of the overall accuracy of the survey  and how strongly respondents feel about a particular issue.  When asked questions respondents are given response options like “strongly agree, agree, either agree or disagree, disagree or strongly disagree”.  When doing surveys on satisfaction levels with a service being provided the terminology used is usually framed  in terms such as  “very happy, happy”, etc.

A recent poll conducted by Forum Research showed that in Winnipeg 25% of respondents were “very happy” with the services offered by the Winnipeg Police Service.

Nationally, 39% of respondents were “very happy” with the policing services they receive.

The current budget for policing in Winnipeg is around $200 million per annum.  That is  up approximately $50 million from 5 years ago.

One could argue that when it comes to policing, money does not necessarily buy ‘happiness’.