Winnipeg City Councillor Kevin Klein serving Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood
It is costing our city and province millions of dollars every year. What is it? The soaring crime rate in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg Police released its 2019 Annual Statistical Report on Friday and once again violent crimes and property crimes continue to grow. Both categories remain significantly above their 5-year averages.
And what has this City Council done to address the issue? Very little in my opinion.
Mayor Bowman put together his "Illicit Drug Task Force" and they have held meetings. But what have they done/ What action have they introduced? This is another issue negatively impacting our city lacking in leadership.
We must think differently.
I was fortunate to sit with U of W Professor Dr. Jino Distasio, whose sons were hockey officials for me. We discussed the problems in Winnipeg and he shared his research and strategy with me.
Dr. Distasio suggested we should target the top 100 users in our city (yes, there is a list) and put them into a long-term program. At the same time, police should target the top 100 dealers and the province must ensure to keep them incarcerated. Remember, these drug dealers are killing our children and their future.
Most important according to Dr. Distasio is children. We would invest in youth programs for children that don't have the means. Research has proven time and time again, to fix the core problem we must focus on our children. Then they will grow up in a healthy environment knowing they are important and a part of our community. They will have a place to go with friends which will eliminate the draw that gangs have today.
Not once did Dr. Distasio say we should spend more time studying the problem. Not once.
It's time to consider the high crime rates as a financial disaster for Winnipeg. Think about the financial losses for Winnipeg; the negative press we're receiving, the cost of re-arresting people, the cost of losing businesses downtown.
Then consider the expense related to the toll it's having on our Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) members. The increasing violent crimes create more overtime, an increase in sick days, not to mention the mental stress it is having on members. These are just a few examples, I could list over 30 expenses related to the rising crime in our city.
Let's think differently about the solutions, not blame other levels of government. I use this analogy; if crime is costing us $100,000 per day x 356 days a year that would equal $35,500,000 every year, and that is low-balling.
Why wouldn't the city and province work together and invest $100,000,000 into an action oriented solution today? What if that investment paid for itself in 5 or 10 years. How? The cost to deal with these crimes begins to lower thus costing taxpayers less and less.
Invest into Dr. Distasio's strategies. Create a much needed drug rehabilitation centre, and help people battle their disease. Imagine the benefit and financial return on that. Establish a team that will focus on the top 100 addicts and get them the help they need. Assign a mental health nurse to a police officer to respond to mental health calls.
Make it very clear to dealers, "We're Coming for You." Invest the necessary funds to make the lives of drug dealers miserable. Invest in strategies that will remove the top 100 dealers from our streets and when that's done, start on the next 100.
And focus on children, please. We are failing our youth, leaving them to fend for themselves. Is it any wonder why they are easily controlled by gangs? According to Dr. Distasio, this is the most important element of any solution. He noted an increase in crime when youth programming began to be eliminated.
Jino has done the research, he has proven his theory. What are we waiting for? Do we just want to hand out grants because it's newsworthy?
We should get to work! The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost taxpayers to resolve in years to come.
One final note on the 2019 crime statistics; WPS calls for service were up year over year. Was there any wonder?
The annual report can be viewed in its entirety in the WPS website, click here.
For information on Crime Prevention please visit, click here.