Police union slams top cop’s take on violent crime wave ‘It continues to spiral out of control,’ says WPA leader after more random, bloody weekend mayhem

Winnipeg’s police chief is under fire for dismissing a recent spate of violence in the city as nothing new, in the wake of another weekend of violent crime involving innocent bystanders.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

Winnipeg’s police chief is under fire for dismissing a recent spate of violence in the city as nothing new, in the wake of another weekend of violent crime involving innocent bystanders.

The Winnipeg Police Association, which represents more than 1,400 officers and 450 civilian support staff, is challenging Chief Danny Smyth’s description of the current state of crime as normal.

“It continues to spiral out of control,” union president Moe Sabourin told the Free Press.

Reassurance from police chief

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS As he attempted to reassure Winnipeggers and visitors, police chief Danny Smyth said he feels safe at The Forks, a place he visits with his family, and in the community.

Posted:

For Winnipeg’s police chief, a series of attacks at The Forks is alarming, but it’s “nothing new” amid year-on-year increases in violent crime and calls for help from citizens.

In response to the incidents, Danny Smyth said police are doing more foot patrols at the popular tourist site and promising a full-time presence on weekends to increase security in the interim.

He seemed to suggest the wider discussion about public safety and violence was amplified by the media, amid concerns about the attacks.

“Nothing that we’re talking about today is new, nothing,” Smyth told reporters at police headquarters Friday. “We have been talking about some of these issues for a very long time. None of this is new, but it became very more of a priority for the media this week.”

Read full story

“And his comments are akin to just throwing your hands up and saying: ‘There’s nothing we can do about this.’ There’s quite a few things that the chief can do; he just chooses not to do it.”

During a news conference on Friday, Smyth acknowledged a series of attacks at The Forks was alarming. At the same time, he suggested reporters were amplifying a wider discussion about public safety and violence amid concerns about the random crimes.

“Nothing that we’re talking about today is new, nothing,” Smyth said. “We have been talking about some of these issues for a very long time. None of this is new, but it became very more of a priority for the media this week.”

The police chief said a five per cent increase in violence crime in 2021, compared with 2020, was driven by a rise in assaults, notably with weapons. He cited gangs, drugs, alcohol, mental health and the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic as some of the factors contributing to violence in the city.

In a span of 48 hours between late Friday and Sunday, Winnipeg officers responded to seven serious incidents: two stabbings, two carjackings, two assaults and an attempted robbery.

Random and violent attacks against innocent citizens are anything but normal and implying otherwise is unacceptable, according to Sabourin, noting the chief’s latest remarks only elevate existing concerns about his leadership.

Sabourin argued an increase in general foot patrols would be an obvious first step in addressing rising violent crime, but indicated “larger picture” actions are needed from the chief to boost officer morale and bolster public confidence.

TWITTER "I’m extremely thankful I’m alive and only suffered road rash all over my body, along with three scratches to my cornea," the victim of a carjacking wrote in a thread on Twitter.
One of the victims of the weekend violence took to social media to share a first-person account of a carjacking that happened in the Grant Park Shopping Centre’s parking lot in broad daylight Saturday.

In a series of tweets, a woman in her early 20s wrote that a stranger approached her parked car around 5 p.m. before opening the driver’s seat door and attacking her.

The man choked and pushed her into the passenger seat before starting to drive off erratically as she fought him off, she wrote. The woman then recalled her escape via the passenger window and “being dragged along with the moving car.”

“I’m extremely thankful I’m alive and only suffered road rash all over my body, along with three scratches to my cornea,” she wrote in a thread on Twitter, in which she pleaded for all women to lock their doors immediately upon entering a car.

Police spokesman Const. Jay Murray said the post illustrates how these traumatic events result in severe harm to regular people.

“It’s a reminder that there are true victims out there. Victims that are probably going to be impacted by these types of incidents for some time and you can’t help but feel, especially while you read her recollection of what occurred, that reminder,” Murray told reporters during an afternoon press conference about the latest incidents Monday.

There has been an average of five carjackings during the first month of the year between 2013 and 2022. In January of this year, there were 26 such incidents — nine times more than the number a year earlier and more than double the same winter figures recorded in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Another bloody weekend

Friday

A man in his 20s was taken to hospital with stab wounds after officers found the victim in Winnipeg’s Spence neighbourhood during a patrol late Friday.

The Winnipeg Police Service said in a release that members of its guns and gangs unit provided emergency care to a man they discovered who had been stabbed at approximately 11 p.m..

The victim was taken to hospital in unstable condition but has since improved, according to authorities.

An investigation into the matter is ongoing. No arrests have been made to date.

Friday

A man in his 20s was taken to hospital with stab wounds after officers found the victim in Winnipeg’s Spence neighbourhood during a patrol late Friday.

The Winnipeg Police Service said in a release that members of its guns and gangs unit provided emergency care to a man they discovered who had been stabbed at approximately 11 p.m..

The victim was taken to hospital in unstable condition but has since improved, according to authorities.

An investigation into the matter is ongoing. No arrests have been made to date.

Saturday

An 18 year old was taken to hospital in critical condition after a stabbing in an inaccessible, bushy area south of Wilkes Avenue Saturday.

Winnipeg police say emergency crews were called to a stabbing in the area of Wilkes and Community Row at about 12:30 a.m.

Police said officers had to head south on Community Row, a gravel road, for two kilometres before they were flagged down by a group of teenagers.

The group told police their friend had been stabbed and was in the wilderness, about one kilometre away near the location of a bush party that dispersed around the time officers arrived, police said.

Officers hiked to the scene and found the 18-year-old man with significant stab-wound injuries and provided emergency medical care. Emergency medical responders and police had to carry the man on a stretcher to the ambulance on Community Row.


A Winnipeg man is in custody after a serious assault on Saturday afternoon at about 4 p.m. in the 300 block of Princess Street.

Police said a man in his 60s was the victim of an unprovoked assault in an apartment. The man was found with a serious injury to his face and sent to hospital in unstable condition. Though his condition was upgraded to stable, the man sustained life-altering injuries.

The accused, who was still at the scene, was taken into custody. Police said the two men knew each other.

Larry Michael Morriseau, 35, is facing charges of aggravated assault and remains in custody.


 

(imageTag)A woman was taken to hospital in stable condition Saturday after jumping from a moving vehicle in a carjacking incident.

Winnipeg police responded to the area of Grant Avenue and Wilton Street avenues at about 5 p.m. where they located the victim. The woman was parked in the lot outside the Grant Park Shopping Centre when she was confronted by a male suspect who got into the vehicle and assaulted her.

The suspect is described as a man with tanned skin, 23-35 years old, approximately six feet tall with a medium stocky build, a shaved head and trimmed beard.

The vehicle was later found nearby, in the 900 block of Carter Street.

 

Sunday

A man with a sawed-off rifle was overpowered by a couple he tried to rob early Sunday morning at a North End service station.

Winnipeg police said the attempted robbery took place at Mountain Avenue and Salter Street on Sunday at 2:50 a.m.

Police said a man with a gun walked up to a man in his 30s and a woman in her 20s and demanded property. The couple fled in their vehicle after a struggle, during which the suspect was disarmed. A sawed-off .22 calibre rifle was later recovered, police said.

Neither victim was injured.

The suspect is described as Indigenous with heavier build, late 20s or 30 years of age, between five-foot-six and five-foot-11 in height, wearing a red sweater, black hat and a backpack.


A man in his 70s was injured late Sunday night after he was hit in the head with a wooden board while walking near the intersection of the Disraeli Freeway and Henry Avenue.

Police officers found the man around 10 p.m. The man said another, unknown man hit him from behind with the board. When he fell to the ground, the suspect fled. Paramedics treated and released the victim at the scene.

Witnesses reported the assault to a nearby security officer, who chased the suspect and held him until police arrived. Upon arrest, the suspect provided a false name, police added.

A 24-year-old Winnipeg man named Dorian Reid Hardisty has been charged with assault with a weapon and public mischief.


A man in his 30s was robbed at gunpoint in downtown Winnipeg, police said Monday.

On Sunday just before 11 p.m., Winnipeg police officers met with a man who said he was the victim of a carjacking that had occured at about 7:45 p.m. that evening.

The man in his 30s said he was parked near Cumberland Avenue and Carlton Street when he was approached by a woman asking for a cigarette. Police say the woman pulled out a knife and another man approached with a gun.

The suspects stole personal property and fled in the vehicle, police said. The victim was not physically injured. The vehicle was found unoccupied in the 100 block of Garry Street.

Police described the suspects as a white woman, 25 to 35 years old, with brown hair in a ponytail. She was wearing a ball cap and a black jacket with a strap on the shoulder. The man was described as white, between 25 and 35 years old,with fair skin, dark eyes and multiple tattoos. He was wearing a black hat and a black sweater.

The major crimes unit is investigating all of the above incidents. Anyone with information is asked to call 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.

While Murray indicated the nature of crime is that there is variability and randomness to it every year, he said carjackings — which are typically motivated by a suspect’s need for transportation or desire to commit another crime with a vehicle — have been on a steady incline year over year.

“In 2018-19, we really saw the use of methamphetamine explode in the city. That, in turn, correlated with an increase in property crime across the board, so not only vehicles, but retail establishments were being victim to thefts,” he said.

“As we come out of the pandemic, we’re looking to see what the new normal is. Unfortunately, this number continues to grow.”

Criminologist Kevin Walby said recent transgressions are serious and the only question now is how to respond to the root causes.

While many people’s reflex is to invest in more policing, Walby suggested more boots on the ground would have already reduced crime if that worked, but the reality is police cannot patrol every corner of the city at every moment.

“It’s time to focus on community and social development, and start to invest more in those kinds of strategies that can prevent people from thinking it’s OK to victimize other people to begin with,” said the associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg.

“Invest in community so that people aren’t getting distressed because they lost their job, they lost their house, they got divorced so they feel like they have nothing else to lose. We don’t want people to feel like they are a lost cause or they are left out of society — and people will, until we fully fund social and community development.”

TWITTER One of the victims of the weekend violence took to social media to share a first-person account of a carjacking that happened in the Grant Park Shopping Centre’s parking lot.

The Bear Clan Patrol’s encounter with a man who accepted water and a sandwich from the group last week is a first-hand example of how poverty contributes to ongoing crime in the city, said executive director Kevin Walker.

“He mentioned that if it weren’t for us giving him that, he would’ve went and robbed a (corner store),” he said.

Walker indicated that community-led initiatives, including Mama Bear Clan and the Downtown Community Safety Partnership patrols, are more important than ever, given the fallout of COVID-19.

— with files from Grant Burr

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / FREE PRESS FILES “To be perfectly clear, random and violent attacks against innocent citizens are not normal, and implying that these incidents are somehow just a routine part of life in a community is to otherwise give up,” said police union president Moe Sabourin in a statement issued Monday.
Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.

History

Updated on Monday, July 11, 2022 2:23 PM CDT: Fixes typo.

Report Error Submit a Tip