Winnipeg cops making house calls to slam door on gangs, drugs
'Getting to be pretty crazy around here,' West End resident says
The Winnipeg Police Service is knocking on doors to try and rid the city of violent crime.
Officers and cadets will hand out 1,000 brochures in the West End on Wednesday as part of the 'Make the Right Call' initiative and have conversations with the people they meet.
WPS Chief Danny Smyth said police want to root out the prevalence of street gangs, which is helping facilitate the city's burgeoning drug crisis, he said.
"Our hope is either [the officers and cadets] will help steer people with drug problems into treatment or help steer gang members that are tired of the life into some kind of exit strategy."
Smyth explained the door-to-door approach in higher crime neighbourhoods has been employed before. Years ago, officers visited areas of the city afflicted by repeated instances of arson and break and enter.
"This is a community crisis that requires a community response," he said.
Rhonda Good, who lives in the West End, said she was happy to see the police launch the program. Her son moved to Steinbach, Man., to avoid meth use in the area, and Good said she's had bad experiences, too.
"Being robbed, being hit, my purse getting taken, things like that. Just people that are so out of it that they don't even know if they're coming or going," she said Wednesday.
"They're talking to themselves, they're banging on windows. … It's getting to be pretty crazy around here."
Residents aware of criminal activity are encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers so their identity can remain anonymous.
"We can't arrest our way out of this problem," said Insp. Max Waddell of the Winnipeg police organized crime unit. "One of the most important pillars … in solving this meth crisis is we need to intervene."
Several community partners, including the Gang Action Interagency Network, support the project.
Robyn Dryden believes as many as 1,500 gang members in the city are under the age of 30.
"Enforcement alone can't solve the issue."
The organization recently started a mentorship program for teenagers either in a street gang or at risk of joining, she said.
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