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This article was published 3/10/2018 (790 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A rise in drug-fuelled crime is becoming a hot topic in the civic election but at least one mayoral candidate said spending more on police is not the answer.

Umar Hayat, a real estate and stock market investor, said Wednesday he’d freeze the Winnipeg Police Service budget in 2019 and then roll it back another $6 million in 2020.

Umar Hayat said Wednesday he’d freeze the Winnipeg Police Service budget in 2019. (John Woods / Free Press files)</p>

Umar Hayat said Wednesday he’d freeze the Winnipeg Police Service budget in 2019. (John Woods / Free Press files)

"We can’t reduce crime by hiring more cops," Hayat said, using a phrase he repeated more than a half-dozen times during a 14-minute interview.

"My focus is on community policing and developing intervention strategies so we can prevent crime before it happens."

Officials at city hall are developing draft department budgets to present to the new council after the Oct. 24 election but Hayat said if elected mayor he would not support an increase in the WPS’s $291.5-million budget for the coming year.

Hayat said he would cut the WPS budget in 2020 by $6 million — a two-per-cent reduction – and put that savings into a joint federal-provincial-city national crime-prevention strategy.

A combined pot of $18 million, Hayat said, should be enough to develop long-term strategies that would focus on measures leading to safer neighbourhoods, including literacy training and investments in youth theatre and sport facilities.

Hayat said he would meet with police officials and the Winnipeg Police Board and develop a strategy that would expand the the force's current community policing initiative across the city in 2019.

"My main focus is community policing and intervention strategies so we can prevent crime before it happens," he said. "I want to see more of our police on streets making relationships with our citizens."

Hayat said he doesn’t yet know where he’d make the $6 million in cuts for 2020, but added that would be done in consultation with the police board and the Winnipeg Police Association.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca