Winnipeg Police say they are making progress on developing a downtown safety strategy.
Staff Sgt. Andy Golebioski said that while the strategy, which was announced in November 2011, remains a work-in-progress, the WPS has implemented some initiatives towards that goal, including:
- A 16-person foot patrol unit.
- Expansion of the Closed Circuit Television network (CCTV).
The downtown safety initiative was part of an overall crime-reduction strategy that Chief Keith McCaskill promised to implement last November.
Golebioski said the downtown safety component has not been fully completed but added the WPS wanted the public to know that they are continuing to work on it and have some components, while not all the pieces.
"What this is is the first public education effort of what’s going to be a number of components that are going to be tasked with over time," Golebioski said. "We could have waited until everything was all done, but we thought why not start with getting the message out to the public now."
Downtown is undergoing a dramatic change, Golebioski said, adding it’s important that the area be considered safe and be safe if business is going to continue to invest there and if people are going to visit and live there.
"We want people to be safe where they live, where they work, where they play but there is a business aspect to safety and security as well," he said. "We recognize the changes that are going on in the city – infrastructure, the development, the investment, all the positive and exciting things we’ve seen.
"We just have to make sure that we’re pro-active in understanding the changes that are going to be taking place over the next few years and try to develop our plans so that we’re meeting up to that challenge."
Golebioski said that aside from the cost of the additional officers assigned to the downtown foot patrol, the downtown safety initiative does not have a budget allocation.
Instead, Golebioski said developing the strategy will involve re-thinking how to deal with public safety and security, adding it will also involve private- and public sector partners and their role downtown.
Golebioski said the strategy will involve something as simple as cautioning the public on how to deal with being approached by strangers to avoid becoming victims of robbery.
Other initiatives will involve design strategies to make downtown a safer place, he said.
"We’ve got access to some great minds in private enterprise who can help guide us," Golebioski said. "What it is for us is to jump on board with that, where we can apply some of our expertise and also learn from them."