EDITORIALS

STATS DON’T LIE – People Do!

WINNIPEG CRIME SCENE
WINNIPEG CRIME SCENE

It’s not often I read something Winnipeg Sun Columnist Tom Brodbeck writes that I disagree with.

That didn’t change when I saw his latest headline, “Less Downtwon Crime Overall? That’s B.S.,”

The story was in response to a report released by the City on Thursday, April 4th, regarding the impact of the WPS Violent Crime Reduction Strategy (VCRS) and the claim that violent crime dropped 14.5% in the Downtown area from 2011 – 2012.

The issue Mr Brodbeck has with the report is that it “cherry picked certain areas of the Downtown to make their numbers look good.”  The number crunchers also created four “fictitious” districts they identified as:

  • The Commercial District
  • The Retail District
  • The Sports & Entertainment District
  • The University District

After reading the report I sit here just as mystified as Brodbeck was.

Mystified by the areas that were excluded from the report:

  • Central Park – a high crime area known for drug trafficking and violent crime
  • Areas within the blocks of St Mary Ave, Broadway Ave & Main St
  • The entire area around the Legislature
  • The entire Broadway Ave area
  • Areas south of the Graham Ave Mall between Smith St & Main St
  • The Forks and surrounding area including Shaw Park
  • The area north of the Exchange District

In fact, I was shocked by the low tech map used in the report.  With no discernible streets, you’re sure to suffer a certain degree of eye strain trying to make sense of it.  It seems to me just about any grade six student could’ve got on google maps and developed something with much more precision and clarity.

DOWNTOWN DISTRICT MAP
DOWNTOWN DISTRICT MAP

According to Downtown BIZ’S crime report, (which uses Police Service data) crime in the Downtown area is up 13.5% during the time same time-frame.

So why the discrepancies?

I’ve never understood the mentality that drives the Political mindset to minimize, manipulate and downplay crime stats.  I was equally perturbed when Mayor Sam Katz recently demonstrated his complete denial for the issues facing the nations leading crime center by boldly stating; “I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is.”

As I’ve said before, that kind of denial is irresponsible and reckless.

And now, the bean counters are back at it with the creation of “nouveau” Districts that “x” out significant chunks of the Downtown area.

After reading the report, it’s clear the WPS is taking their fight against Downtown crime seriously.  The Violent Crime Reduction Strategy has several proactive components that will undoubtedly reap the desired crime reducing benefits so long as motivated people get behind the initiative.

The only negative aspect contained in the report is use of one outdated word popularized during the reigns of Police Chiefs that preceded Devon Clunis.  I’m talking about the disingenuous use of the “P” word – “perception.”  Part of the VCRS includes the stated need to “Enhance the perception of safety through visible presence.”

It seems to me the Police should be more concerned with creating the “reality” of safety rather than a “perception” of safety.  There’s a significant difference between the two philosophies.  The term perception should never be included in a legitimate crime fighting strategy.

Nor should the terms denial & minimization.

It’s time to stop playing games.

RELATED LINKS:

City of Winnipeg Report – Crime Reduction Strategy

FOOTNOTE:

Timing being the cruel thing that it is, the day after the release of the report celebrating a 14.5% reduction in violent crime in the Downtown area the WPS issued the following press release that calls the whole idea of Downtown safety into question:

April 5, 2013

Winnipeg Police Service Media Release

Over the past two weeks the Winnipeg Police Service has taken the report of 3 sexual assaults and 1 indecent act that have occurred in the downtown area.  They include:

  • March 27 at approximately 5:45 p.m. a 24 year old female was sexually assaulted in the 400 block of Portage Avenue by an unknown male.
  • March 29 shortly after 1:00 p.m. a 31 year old female was sexually assaulted in the 200 block of Donald Street by an unknown male.
  • April 1 at approximately 9:00 a.m. a 23 year old female witnessed an unknown male perform an indecent act in the 400 block of Portage Avenue.
  • April 3 at approximately 10:45 a.m. a 25 year old female was sexually assaulted in the 300 block of Portage Avenue by an unknown male.

The investigation continued by members of the Sex Crimes Unit and on April 4, 2013 at approximately 7:30 p.m. with the assistance of the Manitoba High Risk Sex Offenders Unit the suspect was located and taken into custody without incident.

Charley Laurence HENDERSON 20 years of Winnipeg has been detained at the Provincial Remand Centre and is facing charges of:

  • Sexual Assault x 3
  • Indecent Act
  • Breach of Probation x 3

Strong Arm Robbery Arrest 

On Thursday, April 4, 2013 at approximately 7:00 p.m. members of the Division 11 Community Support Unit were in the area of Graham Avenue and Donald Street when they witnessed a person being robbed.

Officers immediately took custody of the 27 year old female suspect and placed her under arrest.  The 68 year old female victim was not injured during the incident.

Lillian Dawn GROOM 27 years of Winnipeg has been detained at the Provincial Remand Centre and is facing several charges.

2 Comments

  1. You nailed it…..thanks for commenting!

  2. You can’t pretend the downtown is safe with perceptions, it has to be real, actual feelings of safety. Anything less is window dressing.
    15000 people on the street for 30 minutes before and after a Jets game or concert is not the result of safe street initiatives. There’s a cop on every corner for these times.
    Its the other 99% of the days and nights when the MTS Centre is closed that have the public afraid to venture into the centre of the city.
    Unless one works downtown or has another reason to be there the vast majority of Winnipegers stay away.

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