Indige­nous coun­cil may be scrapped

Winnipeg Free Press - - TOP NEWS - RYAN THORPE [email protected]­ Twit­ter: @rk_thorpe

THE fu­ture of the city’s Indige­nous coun­cil on polic­ing and crime pre­ven­tion, which re­ports to and ad­vises the Win­nipeg Po­lice Board, is up in the air.

The coun­cil, which is made up of lo­cal lead­ers from the Indige­nous com­mu­nity, is be­ing dis­banded at the end of its three-year man­date.

Whether it will be re­in­stated in some ca­pac­ity, or scrapped, re­mains un­clear, po­lice board chair­man Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said.

“It’s not that we’re not go­ing to re­place it, but we’re go­ing to re­view it now to see if it needs to be made into some­thing else, to see if we can make it bet­ter,” he said Fri­day.

The coun­cil’s man­date was to ad­vise the po­lice board on how Indige­nous pub­lic safety — and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween po­lice and Indige­nous Peo­ples — could be im­proved. It met up to four times per year.

The three-year man­date for the board ex­pires at the end of this year, and it re­mains un­clear how long a re­view will take, Klein said.

“We want to talk to the mem­bers and see if it was ef­fec­tive enough, or if we need to make changes to make it more ef­fec­tive,” he said. “I would re­ally like to see peo­ple sit­ting at the same ta­ble.

“I don’t think we nec­es­sar­ily need to have two dif­fer­ent ones — maybe we do. But it would be nice to see more in­clu­sion right at the (Win­nipeg Po­lice Board).”

Klein’s com­ments came shortly af­ter the po­lice board met Fri­day. It was his first as chair­man since be­ing nom­i­nated to the role last month by Mayor Brian Bow­man.

At the meet­ing, Win­nipeg Po­lice Ser­vice Chief Danny Smyth out­lined re­cent ini­tia­tives the force has un­der­taken, in­clud­ing an in­creased fo­cus on Tran­sit safety and on­go­ing bat­tles to com­bat prop­erty crime.

The num­ber of hours of­fi­cers have spent on city buses rose to 48 in Oc­to­ber from 30 in Septem­ber, Smyth said — the re­sult of WPS brass en­cour­ag­ing mem­bers to in­crease their vis­i­bil­ity on Win­nipeg Tran­sit ve­hi­cles.

“Over time, our mem­bers are ad­just­ing to the way they walk the beat. We’re ask­ing them to jump on the bus, take a short trip on the bus, have a pres­ence on the bus,” Smyth said.

“It’s be­come clear from feed­back from both the com­mu­nity and, frankly, from Tran­sit that they would like to see more of a pres­ence.

“It works well with our down­town strat­egy.”

The chief high­lighted con­cerns about thefts at Win­nipeg liquor stores, which, com­bined with the city’s metham­phetamine cri­sis, is caus­ing prop­erty crime rates to go up.

So far in 2018, prop­erty crime is up 21 per cent over 2017, WPS statis­tics show.

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