Winnipeg cops join Bear Clan on patrol in city's North End
‘It’s a big deal, having a collaborative effort like this,’ Bear Clan Patrol co-founder says
Winnipeg police put boots on the ground along with the Bear Clan in the North End Wednesday night.
Four officers from the Winnipeg Police Service joined the community patrol, which has been walking North End streets on its own since 2015.
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"They're out here walking these streets pretty much every day of the week, and we're just out here to help them, assist them, kind of get a feel for what they're doing when they're out here," said Cst. Jeff Boehm.
Winnipeg police say they went walking Wednesday night to show their appreciation for the Bear Clan — a volunteer-run group that is now patrolling streets five days a week.
"They're out here preventing things, they're a visible force for us," Boehm said.
"Their boots are on the ground, they're out here walking amongst the people in the North End in the poorest area of Canada where violent crime takes place."
'It's a big deal'
Bear Clan Patrol co-founder James Favel said seeing Winnipeg police walking alongside his patrol on the street is an improvement in community relations with police.
"It's a big deal, having a collaborative effort like this, it's fantastic," Favel said.
Favel said since the Bear Clan was re-born in 2014 following the high-profile death of Tina Fontaine, the relationship between Winnipeg police and people living in the North End has changed.
"It's very positive. There's a lot of positivity. There's more engagement. There's more people coming out from our community to volunteer," said Favel.
"I have a history with the police dating back to 1983 so it wasn't always good but what we have going on today is much better."
The Bear Clan is growing and expanding across Canada.
Chapters have started in Toronto, Fort Francis, Kenora, and Regina. Lethbridge wants a chapter and one may start in Prince George, Favel said.
"We're nationwide really and all the relationships we're building along the way are advantageous to not just us but the people we're involved with."