Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Applying a band-aid to a gaping wound
It has been about 72 hours since a grim-faced Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz, flanked by acting police Chief Menno Zacharias, held court with reporters in a hastilty-arranged news conference to address a spree of inner-city shootings that left one man dead and two others critically injured.Katz, to his credit, announced action.Police resources in the problem area would be tripled, effective immediately. And officers, he said, would have "zero tolerance" for any breaches of the Criminal Code, however minor.So what has happened in the wake of this announcement?Well, things have seemingly been pretty quiet in the blood-spattered William Whyte neighbourhood.And all hell has broken loose in other parts of the city.There have been two shooting incidents in which Winnipeg police have been forced to discharge their weapons - a sure sign that street violence has reached a point rarely, if ever, seen in these parts. (Read the latest HERE
)One happened outside a downtown nightclub early Saturday morning, in which police were on scene investigating a disturbance when a man began shooting another man, then fired at officers. Police responded with bullets, wounding the alleged shooter. He is expected to survive.
The second occurred early this morning in River Heights, following a brief chase of an apparent robbery suspect. The circumstances aren't entirely clear yet, but it appears at least two shots were fired. The suspect was injured, but it also expected to make a full recover.There has also been what will likely turn out to be a homicide, with a body found dumped on the northwest outskirts of the city.And no less than four serious stabbings spread around the city, and police have also managed to make arrests in two recent unsolved slayings.Of course, this doesn't even begin to touch who knows how many property crimes - from break-and-enters to car thefts - also occurred. And we know, from my colleague Bruce Owen's recent series of stories, that many members of the public no longer even bother to call these ones in, knowing police have much more pressing matters to deal with and likely don't have the time, or resources, to respond in any kind of effective way.The ultra-violent weekend should send a very loud and clear message to Katz, and other politicians.There are no quick fixes. Crime is everywhere. And it's not going away anytime soon.
Applying a band-aid to a wounded North End neighbourhood may have kept things quiet for a few days, but what about the rest of the city?Police have been calling for extra resources for years. Police have also been saying - with good reason - about an increasing level of violence and the fact officers are finding themselves under attack with greater frequency.The list of problems is endless. Drug abuse. Poverty. Poor parenting. Disenfranchised youth. And what many see as a toothless justice system.Until our local, provincial and federal leaders start addressing those issues in a serious, long-term way and putting their money with their mouths are, we are likely to see many more weekends like that one we just came through.Got a thought on this issue? An idea on how to better address the problem? Make your voice heard and post it below.www.mikeoncrime.com