Manitoba

Proceeds of crime to pay for Winnipeg police drone, other equipment

The Manitoba government is using more than half a million dollars from its criminal forfeiture fund — property and cash used in crimes that the province has confiscated — to pay for specialized equipment and training for Winnipeg police.

Robotic arm, infrared-equipped drone part of new spending

Numerous police forces across Canada — including Ontario Provincial Police, as pictured above — have adopted drone technology. (OPP)

The Manitoba government is using more than half a million dollars from its criminal forfeiture fund — property and cash used in crimes that the province has confiscated — to pay for specialized equipment and training for Winnipeg police.

Some equipment the new funding will pay for includes a drone with infrared technology and a robotic arm that officers can use to quickly and safely inspect a potentially dangerous situation.

About $496,000 from Manitoba's criminal property forfeiture fund will go toward: 

  • New computer workstations for the police service's technological crimes unit, which will improve its ability to process digital evidence and more effectively investigate crime ($205,200).
  • An image capture unit that will be used at the scene of serious motor vehicle collisions to help experts reconstruct what happened ($46,100).
  • Public outreach efforts including video equipment and translating existing children's activity books ($27,600).
  • Specialized tactical training for undercover officers ($19,500).
  • Specialized training for officers focused on the technology, law and best practices related to wiretaps ($5,800).
  • The drone ($155,400) and the robotic arm ($36,200).

"As crime is becoming more sophisticated and complex it is important that our police officers stay up to pace," Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said during Monday's funding announcement.

Video on exiting gang life

A new video developed by the Gang Action Interagency Network (GAIN) aims to help youth avoid the gang life, or give them support in breaking free. It features a number of former gang members telling their stories. (Submitted by Winnipeg Police Service)

As well, $20,000 from the criminal forfeiture fund will go to the Gang Action Interagency Network to, in partnership with the Winnipeg police, create a video aimed at helping youth avoid, or exit, gang life.

An estimated 1,400 to 1,500 youth in Winnipeg are active in street gangs right now, a news release from the provincial government says. And Winnipeg police have blamed gangs for being part of the reason for the city's surge in crime, including the record number of homicides.

"Individuals with lived gang experience tell their compelling stories on what strategies assisted them in breaking free," said Insp. Max Waddell, head of the Winnipeg Police Service's organized crime division.

Part of that funding will also support GAIN representatives to travel to northern and rural communities to give presentations.

GAIN co-ordinator Sean Sousa says people can get out of street gangs and give back to society but they need resources to do it. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

"Our goal is to educate the larger community on why people get trapped into gangs in the first place and show that change is possible with the proper supports," said Sean Sousa, co-ordinator for GAIN, which includes more than 180 representatives from law enforcement, community organizations and governments.

"People do get out and give back but they need the resources to do it."

He says it can take anywhere from six months to six years for someone to successfully leave a gang and the GAIN mentorship program has been helping people get out.

"Our mentorship program has only been around a year but we've had over 37 people be part of our program and out of those people, 22 have not been back in jail since. So in my mind that's a success," Sousa said.

So far in the 2019-20 fiscal year, more than $1.6 million from the criminal property forfeiture fund has been used to purchase specialized equipment and training for police agencies, to support the victims' assistance fund, and to invest in public safety and crime prevention initiatives led by community organizations, according to the province.

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