Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Winnipeg west end will see more police

Winnipeg police are stepping up patrols in the city's West End neighbourhood following a wave of recent violence.
The Free Press has learned a 14-year-old boy who allegedly opened fire on a Victor Street home Wednesday evening -- injuring two young girls -- was out on bail at the time for a 2009 shooting incident in which two children were injured outside a Winnipeg middle school.

How guns hit the street

TWO recent West End shootings raise a troubling question: How do teens get lethal weapons?
According to Winnipeg police Det. Rob Duttchen, a firearms enforcement support officer, there are three ways criminals get their hands on guns.
They're stolen from lawful owners or businesses during crimes like break-and-enters.
Someone who legally owns a gun sells or gives it to a criminal.
The gun is illegally trafficked into Canada, generally from places like the United States.
Duttchen said finding a gun isn't necessarily difficult for people enmeshed in an illegal lifestyle.
"When you're engaged in the criminal and drug subculture, your network is within the criminal and drug subculture, so if you need to secure a firearm or you need to secure drugs, you use the people with whom you're engaged in criminality," he said.
City police seized 894 firearms last year and about 400 so far this year.
He estimated 60 per cent of illegal guns come from domestic sources and 40 per cent come from international destinations.
"When you talk to police officers who started in the (19)70s, they will tell you that it was a rare occurrence for a firearm to be seized," he said.
"If you talk to a police officer who started last year, they will tell you that rarely a week goes by that there's not some sort of seizure of a firearm."
The teen was formally charged Thursday night with the attack, which came on the heels of a deadly neighbourhood shooting one day earlier and has led to an increased police presence in the area.
Winnipeg Police Service Chief Keith McCaskill announced earlier Thursday officers from the street crime unit and community support unit will increase their foot patrols and presence in the crime-plagued community.
"The important thing is to let people know that these things cannot be tolerated," McCaskill said at a news conference. The street crime unit, which has about 45 officers, will be dedicated to the West End for now. "The important thing is to have that visible presence out there, give confidence back to the community and make sure, as much as we possibly can, that we can curtail criminal activity," said McCaskill.
Kyle Earl, 16, was shot dead Tuesday afternoon while sitting outside a home at 646 Toronto St. His 13-year-old friend, Byron Cook, was wounded. Police believe the incident was a targeted, gang-related attack and have made no arrests. Earl and Cook are known associates of the Indian Posse street gang.
Bullets resumed flying just over 24 hours later at 542 Victor St., where two girls were injured after three shots were fired into their front window. A 10-year-old girl was hit directly in the leg, while an eight-year-old girl was grazed in the head with flying debris.
"It hits you right in the chest," McCaskill said of the young people being targeted. "It's something nobody wants to see when innocent victims get involved in things."
Police quickly identified a suspect in the Victor Street shooting and arrested him early Thursday. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault. The teen was also charged with breaching conditions of his bail on charges including careless use of a firearm, pointing a firearm and assault with a weapon. A justice source said that incident involved shooting two people with an compressed air pistol near a school in the Crestview area of the city last year. The victims reported the incident to their principal, who contacted police.
Police don't believe the Victor Street shooting is linked to the Toronto Street slaying and say the two girls aren't believed to be the intended victims. A justice source told the Free Press the youth may have been targeting a notorious nearby drug house and either misfired or got the wrong address.
Police are continuing to search for two men involved in the shootings of Earl and Cook, along with a friend of the victims who ran after the two gunmen and began firing shots that ultimately hit two cars on Agnes Street. The occupants of the cars were thought to be uninvolved in the earlier shootings and were not injured.
The street crime unit that will now focus on the West End was created in October 2005 after then-police chief Jack Ewatski announced Operation Clean Sweep following the shooting death of Philippe Haiart, 17. He was struck by a stray bullet after getting caught in gang crossfire at Maryland Street and Sargent Avenue. The unit was originally set up to target drug dealing, prostitution and weapons offences in the city's West End and North End and has continued since then.
"We have the flexibility with that unit to be able to place it in different spots," said McCaskill. "We're never going to be in a position in this city or any other city to put a police officer on every block (and) every corner. And we have to be as flexible as we possibly can to try to gain control of things when they can get out of control."
Thursday, three bullet holes were in the front of 542 Victor St., a white, two-storey home that's registered to Kinew Housing. Neighbours said a teenage boy lives at the low-income rental home along with two young girls.
The outside of the home had the words "West Syde," which stands for a local street gang scrawled on the mailbox.

I think more police is a positive move, especially for the west end. However, more police will not solve the issues surrounding gangs, poverty and unemployment that inner cities suffer from. We need to address the root causes of why teens join gangs and establish crime prevention programs for at-risk youth if we want to reduce and prevent long term crime. Assigning more police will only result in the gang problem moving elsewhere. It's simply a diversion, not a solution. 

The main problems surrounding the west end, are; addictions, poor and ineffective parenting, poverty, unemployment and family violence/dysfunction along with negative influences and role models. More police, will not solve these problems that plague the west end. If we want to reduce crime, we need to address these root causes.  

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