WPS Deputy Chief Dave Thorne shared optimistic crime statistics during his appearance at the latest Winnipeg Police Board meeting held earlier this month.
Thorne advised incidents of violent crime dropped 7.6 % from 2012 to 2013, and were 22.1 % lower than the previous five-year average. Statistical reductions were noted in several crime categories;
- Homicide – 16.7 % reduction
- Arson – 36.3 % reduction
- Property Crimes – 17 % reduction
- Break & Enters – 15 % reduction
- Auto Theft – 1.6 % reduction
It wasn’t all good news;
- Assault Police Officers – 15.8 % increase
- Sexual Assaults Level II – 137.5 % increase
- Other Sex Crimes – 70.6 % increase
*Police caution that unusually low incident numbers experienced in some categories in 2012 may cause abnormally high percentage increases in 2013.
Thorne indicated the decrease in crime is a reflection of the cooperation between the WPS and other agencies and Government bodies who are working together to improve the quality of life for Winnipeg residents. “I do believe we are achieving a safer City but it’s not us alone that’s doing that,” he said.
He also credited one of the coldest winters in decades for deterring crime in our frigid City. Apparently, consistent arctic like temperatures with windchill values between -40 & -50 degrees celsius has a way of keeping criminals indoors.
But are we truly achieving a safer City?
“One of the key measures for a police service is how people feel the fear, how safe do people feel. If the mission or work of the police service is to allow people to feel safe in their community when they step out their door then I think we are achieving a safer City,” Thorne said.
With respect, public safety needs to go deeper than that.
Policing has to be about reality, not perception.
Some of the rosy crime statistics were shared on Twitter by Police Board Chair, City Councillor Scott Fielding who celebrated the 16.7% reduction in the Homicide category.
After seeing the tweet I felt compelled to give Mr Fielding a reality check sharing Homicide data from 2010 vs 2011. In 2010 Winnipeg recorded twenty-two (22) Homicides while in 2011 we recorded a record forty-one (41), a whopping 86.36% year over year increase. My point, annual fluctuations are not reliable indicators when it comes to measuring safety in our community.
“Agreed,” Fielding responded. “But the five-year average is headed in the right direction. No question more work is needed to make our community safer.”
It’s nice that Mr Fielding gets that.
I’ve always believed that optimism is a good thing while minimization and denial can be dangerous.
In a City known as the violent crime and murder capital of Canada for years running we simply can’t afford to play the minimization game. Unfortunately, our Mayor doesn’t see it that way, “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,” Katz said in the summer of 2012.
Simply put, that kind of denial is irresponsible.
Law abiding Citizens need to be able to trust the information Politicians and Police feed them. Public Safety is not a game to be played by people motivated by political gain or self-interest.
On April 2, 2013, twenty (20) year old Nigel Dixon and a female friend were walking in broad daylight in the 500 block of Langside Street when they were shot by street gang members protecting their turf. The woman survived but Dixon died as a result of the attack. The investigation revealed Dixon was an innocent victim with no gang associations.
Innocent citizens don’t get murdered while walking down the street in broad daylight in Cities we might call “safe.”
The new crime reduction by social development strategy employed by Chief Clunis is still very much an experiment with unquantifiable results.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you different.
Optimism is good.
Minimization is bad.
In 2013, Winnipeg recorded twenty-five (25) murders, six (6) of which were gang or drug related.
The murder of Justin Latinecz (22) on September 29, 2013 remains unsolved.