from Winnipeg CopWatch- Suggestions for Real Crime Prevention

...Solutions to Crime Prevention Rather Than a Ramping Up of the Status Quo

In boosting the number of police...politicians are following the path of the so-called “law & order” politics of the federal Conservative party, who’ve used a non-existent rise in crime to justify construction of expensive new prisons[1]. Research has consistently shown that incarceration actually increases crime...

....Consider working with the province to follow in the footsteps of Ontario’s recent decriminalization of sex work, in response to the ongoing crisis of missing women. New Zealand decriminalized sex work in 2003, and in the time since then, they’ve seen a modest decrease in the number of sex workers on the street, and a significant increase in the likelihood they’ll report crimes committed against them.

In 2001, Portugal took the visionary step of re-framing their drug policyas a public health issue, rather than one of crime. They decriminalized all drugs, setting up users with treatment and harm reduction services instead of costly prison sentences. In the years since, teen drug use dropped, as did contraction of HIV, as well as heroin overdose deaths. Twice as many people are now seeking treatment as when drug use was criminalized.

These two policy changes would undercut gang violence more than could 1,000 new police officers, depriving them of their reason for warring overturf, as well as of their economic reason for existence.

Another top crime problem in working-class Winnipeg communities is, of course, police misconduct, brutality, impunity, and racial profiling.  Reports have repeatedly raised these points over the last 20 years [2], and have repeatedly been ignored by politicians. Some simple ways politicians can work to solve these problems include

* ending the practice of police investigating police

* implementing the recommendations of the Manitoba Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, which found the justice system had “failed Manitoba’s Aboriginal people on a massive scale”

* seeing that the police respond to community feedback and engage in dialogue, such as recommendations made jointly by Copwatch and the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, and backed by the Law Enforcement Review Agency of Manitoba, the Canadian Association ofJournalists, and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association that the Winnipeg Police Service adopt policy to prevent illegal camera confiscations by police[3]

* allowing communities an accessible process to prevent repeat problem officers from patrolling in their neighbourhoods

* offering Law Enforcement Review Agency [LERA] complainants, who are always up against the best lawyers the police union can buy, free legal representation from the start of the complaint process

* not allowing police officers the right to decline to testify at LERA hearings

* revoking the right of the Downown BIZ, a private police force policing public space, to enforce the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act



1. Despite an overall trend of decreasing crime over the past ten years in Canada, the Conservatives have argued for the need for more prisons based on a Statistics Canada increase in the category of unreportedcrimes, though StatsCan have said that the Conservatives are misusing those numbers.

2. See, for example

* The Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba (1991)

* The Racialized Communities and Police Services interim report (2007) included a number of stories, for example:

o “Two officers put me in a car and took me outside of thecity. I thought I’d done something wrong but didn’t knowwhy they were taking me out. They called someone on theradio and when we stopped somewhere outside Winnipeg another car pulled in. They raped me, took turns. They were cruel and disgusting and when they were finished theyleft me there. I had to find my way back.”

* The Taman Inquiry (2008)

* Newcomers report, by the Winnipeg Police Advisory Board (2009), which cited:

o “Lack of respect by some police toward the newcomer community in general”

o “General harassment of black youth during everyday activities”

o “Unwarranted combative/assaultive behavior… used by some police officers in the early stages of a contact, or after arrest”

o “i.e. stories of being beaten with a phone book so no marks are left”

3. In the past six years, the Winnipeg Police Service have confiscated the footage of a Genie award-winning filmmaker, have arrested a CBC camera person for filming them, and have confiscated the camera of a Winnipeg Sun photographer, among a number of other incidents.

Redwood Curtain CopWatch has excerpted this from and reformatted a title for it.