By: Tamara King
Winnipeg Police Auxiliary Cadets David Lafreniere (left) and Sheldon Pilkington speak with a pedestrian downtown. (BRIAN DONOGH/Winnipeg Sun)
Almost 100 people were arrested in Winnipeg’s core over the past month as police have focused on crime hotspots with the aim of cutting violent crime.
Officers cracked down on trouble spots department describes as “intelligence directed crime prevention strategy” and arrested alleged purse snatchers and drug dealers, among others, in an area roughly bordered by Portage and Notre Dame Avenues to Maryland Street, Winnipeg police said Friday.
Police used Crimestat (a website that lists the general locations of serious crimes like sex assaults and robberies), calls for service, complaints, informants, video surveillance footage and even images captured by civilians to determine hotspots and create a focused plan for officers in what the service describes as an “intelligence directed crime prevention strategy” that has been in the works for months, police said.
“What it is, if you want to use a sports analogy, we have a problem here, we’ve analyzed it, now we’re going to run a zone defence and we’re going to go to that area whenever possible and hopefully work toward crime prevention through investigation, through officer presence and enforcement,” said Sgt. Jon Lutz of the Division 11 Crime Unit.
In all, 96 people were arrested for offences like armed robbery, drugs and weapons possession between Jan. 17 and Feb. 14. Police couldn’t specifically compare the number of people nabbed to past months, however Lutz described it as “more arrests than typically.”
Officers also handed out 163 tickets, including Liquor Control Act breaches and Highway Traffic Act offences.
Police declined to list specific incidents. Lutz said he did not want to jeopardize any cases that are in front of the courts.
Downtown safety is a top issue in Winnipeg.
Crime concerns in the core soared last fall when an internal Air Canada memo was leaked, revealing the airline was pulling its flight crews from the downtown Radisson hotel amid safety concerns.
Extra beat cops have been added to the downtown, particularly around Portage Avenue. Police have also boosted their presence during concerts and sporting events, something they’ve already done for Winnipeg Jets home games.
COPS’ AREA OF FOCUS:
View Downtown crime ‘hotspots’ in a larger map