Manitoba

Winnipeg cops making house calls to slam door on gangs, drugs

The Winnipeg Police Service is knocking on doors to try and rid the city of violent crime.

'Getting to be pretty crazy around here,' West End resident says

Rhonda Good says she's had bad experiences in the West End, so she was happy to learn Wednesday about the new program. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

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.

Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth speaks about a new crime prevention initiative to deliver 1,000 brochures at West End doorsteps and chat with the residents they meet. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

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."

Community partners

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.

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. 1:52

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About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese reports from the Manitoba Legislature for CBC Manitoba. He previously wrote for the Brandon Sun and the Carillon in Steinbach. Story idea? Email ian.froese@cbc.ca.