Two area councillors have asked Winnipeg police to investigate maintaining a presence in St. James when the existing District 2 station amalgamates with District 6 and moves south to Tuxedo.
At the June 7 meeting of the Assiniboia community committee, Couns. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) and Grant Nordman (St. Charles) put forward a motion asking police to consider partnering with the local chapter of Citizens For Crime Awareness to operate a small service centre in the CFCA’s offices on Rutland Avenue.
"Policing is mainly done through cruiser cars… but people have concerns," Fielding said.
"We wanted to make sure people still have that place to go (in the community) to report a crime, get info on crime prevention."
District 2 and District 6 in Fort Garry are slated to amalgamate and be headquartered in a new police station at 2325 Grant Ave. near Shaftesbury Boulevard.
Fielding and Nordman say they envision police keeping office hours in the CFCA space a couple times a week.
"We want to make sure it’s all sorted out before the building is built," Fielding said.
Wanda Prychitko, president of the CFCA, which administers the Neighbourhood Watch program, said the move would increase the organization’s visibility.
The organization, which has lost close to 1,000 Neighbourhood Watch families since 2004, is desperately trying to rebuild its presence in the community.
"People notice the police more than they notice us," Prychitko said.
"Anytime we can link up with the police, people will notice us and notice the name and our relationship with the police service."
Prychitko admitted the organization has become less connected with local police over the years.
"Our primary focus is on the Neighbourhood Watch program and that is still a police program," she said.
"We’re excited now we can maybe get that to grow back again. It’s what we need to do if we want to keep Neighbourhood Watch alive and growing."
Mayor Sam Katz supports the motion, Fielding noted.
Engaging residents to keep a close watch on their community is key to the move, he added.
"At the end of the day, the community are the eyes and ears of what’s going on," Fielding said.
"They know better than anybody else what should and shouldn’t be going on in their community."
In July 2003, council approved restructuring the Winnipeg Police Service model from six to four districts. The East District Station was subsequently opened in Transcona in 2008.