Mayoral candidate Gillingham unveils crime prevention plan for Winnipeg

Mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham unveiled a crime-prevention plan he says was in the works well before a recent slew of high-profile violent incidents in Winnipeg.

Calls for renewed statistical analysis, joint units with RCMP to improve policing without spending more

Man standing behind a podium.
Mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham unveiled a crime prevention plan on Thursday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham unveiled a crime prevention plan he says was in the works well before a recent slew of high-profile violent incidents in Winnipeg.

The two-term city councillor for St. James and former Winnipeg Police Board chair gathered reporters to a meeting room in downtown Winnipeg's Alt Hotel on Thursday to present a five-page, 10-point policy document he described as an effort to make the Winnipeg Police Service more proactive.

Gillingham said if he's elected mayor this fall, he will encourage Winnipeg's police to resume the statistical analysis of crime trends on both a citywide and community basis. He'd also encourage them to revive joint efforts with the RCMP to combat organized crime and arrest habitual offenders who have warrants for their arrests, he said.

Gillingham said the police service has moved away from proactive crime prevention to the point where the service no longer has the capacity to do much beyond responding to crime.

"Many police officers are working hard, but from a strategic perspective, there's been a conscious shift in how these officers are being tasked and deployed to a more reactive approach that is struggling to cope with inbound calls," Gillingham said. 

Gillingham also pledged to expand upon pilot projects that prevent police from responding to low-risk mental-health calls in favour of sending outreach workers with crisis expertise instead. He promised to hire crime prevention officers to serve on Winnipeg Transit buses and elsewhere once the provincial government changes legislation to allow the move.

He also pledged to change the criteria for police board appointments to ensure people who serve on the board have skills applicable for advising the police.

"You need the right skill set not only to provide financial oversight, but to provide good governance oversight as well," he said, noting the police service's $320-million annual operating budget is the largest among any city department.

He stopped short of stating the qualifications of existing board members are less than adequate for the role.

Fiscal accountability

Gillingham promised Wednesday to appoint himself to the police board to ensure he could directly advise police. Under the provincial Police Services Act, only members of the board have the authority to provide any general direction to the Winnipeg Police Service.

Gillingham also pledged to reinstate a criminologist-in-residence program at the police service. That, he said, is the only aspect of his crime prevention plan that would incur any additional costs to the city.

"I do not support defunding the police, but I do believe that the Winnipeg Police Service needs to be fiscally accountable so that we can protect taxpayers and other city services," Gillingham said.

He said as mayor he would continue to hold increases to the police budget at or below the rate of inflation.

Three uniformed police officers and two marked police vehicles are seen on the street in front of a building, surrounded by yellow police tape.
Winnipeg police officers taped off the front steps of the three-storey apartment building at 391 Gertrude Ave., in Osborne Village, and closed part of the street after a man was shot by a police officer on Wednesday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The eight-year councillor said advisers on his campaign team and in the community were working on this plan well before a series of high-profile incidents — including a pair of stabbings at The Forks three days apart — led Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth to state violent crime is not a new problem for the city.

Premier Heather Stefanson and Winnipeg Police Association president Moe Sabourin condemned Smyth's remarks, characterizing them as complacent.

"Nothing today I'm saying is a reaction to the criminal or political events of the last few days," Gillingham said.

Gillingham is one of 12 people registered to run for mayor in Winnipeg. The other 11 candidates are Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Shaun Loney, Jenny Motkaluk, Glen Murray, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Jessica Peebles, Rick Shone, Desmond Thomas and Don Woodstock.

The municipal election is on Oct. 26.

Crime prevention, transit improvements: Promises from 2 mayoral candidates

5 months ago
Duration 1:54
Mayoral candidates Scott Gillingham and Shaun Loney unveiled their plans for crime prevention and improvements to Winnipeg Transit if elected as Winnipeg's new mayor.


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.


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