New Manitoba policing strategy includes co-operation on firearms tracking, missing people
Government promises $835,000 for new intelligence model to encourage collaboration among policing agencies
New systems to track firearms and co-ordinate searches for missing people are part of a new policing and public safety strategy the Manitoba government introduced Thursday.
As part of a $2.7-million investment into policing practices, Manitoba Justice will develop new ways of sharing information to help law enforcement agencies fight criminal activity.
"We recognize that crime doesn't recognize municipal borders," Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said, "so we have to be diligent in terms of sharing information and sharing resources."
The enhancements will help police efforts associated with firearms and searches for missing people, Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said.
The current method of tracking firearms relies on a federal database that can take 100 days to reflect new information.
"This is an opportunity for us to develop a system here provincially that would provide us all with information on a much quicker turnaround," Smyth said. It "would help us to track and source guns much more expediently."
He hopes the new system will relay information about missing people quickly.
The new information system is expected to cost $835,000, the province said.
The new strategy also emphasizes collaborative approaches to suppress illegal drug trafficking networks. The province will provide up to $1 million to support these efforts.
Thompson a 'hub' of crime
The justice minister singled out the city of Thompson as a hotspot for crime and said that must be remedied.
The government pledged $300,000 to allow the city, RCMP and other stakeholders to develop a public safety strategy for the city.
"Thompson is the hub of the north and, unfortunately, it's become the hub of criminal activity as well," Cullen said, referring to high rates of drug and alcohol use and homelessness as significant problems.
Other communities with high rates of violence will also get targeted help, but Thompson is the initial focus, he said.
The provincial government plans to develop specific strategies to address rural crime by following the advice of other provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The government also promised $250,000 to improve the work of community mobilization units, which are made up of people who provide social supports to at-risk individuals.
Policing review takes shape
Cullen also said Thursday that the government will enlist an outside expert to review perceived shortcomings in the legislation that governs policing in the province.
A request for proposals to study the Police Services Act will be issued next week.
The government has spent months evaluating the scope of the review, and Cullen, who has said the legislation has "some holes in it," explained the terms of reference have been completed.
The request for proposals comes after police questioned the mandate of Manitoba's police watchdog, saying there's a gap in legislation about when notes should be shared, incidents flagged and cadets interviewed.