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City deserves resolute commitment to safety

As published in the Winnipeg Sun October 22, 2023 - It seems our news feeds have been inundated with distressing tales of teenagers succumbing to unthinkable impulses: shootings, assaults, and thefts that are becoming more and more common.

These headlines, however, conspicuously lacked any mention of the decisive measures being taken by our elected officials to confront one of Winnipeg’s most pressing concerns, as indicated by recent polls. Curiously absent from the discourse was any direct comment from our city leaders.

The burden of ensuring the safety and well-being of Winnipeg’s residents falls squarely on the shoulders of our elected council. Yet, it appears that our representatives have turned a blind eye to the alarming escalation of violent crimes, especially among our youth. No young individual aspires to a life of crime and violence.

My tenure as chairman of the Winnipeg Police Board provided me with a unique vantage point, allowing me to attend numerous community gatherings where dedicated officers shed light on how vulnerable kids are exploited by gangs.

In response to this grim reality, I relentlessly championed the cause of confronting violent criminal activities head-on and advocated for increased investments in youth programs designed to extricate children from the clutches of these nefarious gangs.

Our city’s leaders must recognize the urgency of this situation by prioritizing investments in public safety and youth initiatives, especially in our most vulnerable communities. I recall a time in my own youth when community activities were not contingent upon the financial status of one’s family.

Arnold Sagalyn’s poignant words, published in the Notre Dame Law Review in 1965, continue to resonate today: “We cannot meet the needs of our society within our time unless we mobilize and utilize all of the resources of our communities.” This statement serves as a timeless reminder of our collective responsibility to act.

While it is true that the federal government must urgently address bail reform, this issue should not be a pretext for our city leaders to remain idle. The onus is on them to seize the initiative. There are noteworthy examples from other jurisdictions, such as Detroit’s Project Greenlight, which demonstrate proactive approaches to combating rising crime.

Acknowledging that solving this problem won’t happen overnight, it is imperative that our leaders prioritize this issue. Regular and public meetings could be convened to deliberate on the necessary actions within the city’s jurisdiction, fostering a secure and nurturing community for all its residents.

The time for action is now, and our city deserves nothing less than a resolute commitment to its safety and well-being.

— Kevin Klein is a former Manitoba cabinet minister, a former city councillor and Chair of the Winnipeg Police and a former Winnipeg Sun CEO & publisher.


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