Street crime officers to move into new Winnipeg police guns and gangs unit
Reassignment will help police track firearms used in crimes, chief says
The Winnipeg Police Service is carving out a new guns and gangs unit within its organized crime division.
Most officers assigned to the street crime unit will be reassigned to the new unit to help figure out where firearms used in crimes come from and what happens to them, Chief Danny Smyth told the Winnipeg Police Board on Friday.
"We hear across the country that guns are becoming more and more prolific. We see them here locally as well. We just don't know if we're dealing with firearms that are smuggled in across the border or whether they're being stolen locally. This is an opportunity to source that," Smyth told reporters following the meeting.
"We had the ability to track crime guns but we didn't follow through with the sourcing of them."
In addition to tracking firearms used in crimes, the new unit will look at "straw purchases," where a consumer buys a gun legally and then flips it to someone else.
"It's when somebody buys a gun for somebody else," Smyth said.
Police are only interested in guns used in crimes and will not be checking up on the legal purchase and use of firearms, he said.
The change is part of the police service's plans for 2019. The police board voted unanimously to approve the $301-million police budget, which goes before council for approval on March 20.