Gun Violence in the News: CBC News, June 15, 2009, “Growing gun and gang problems plaguing Winnipeg, say police”
Posted by cgccanada on June 17, 2009
A weekend of violence in Winnipeg’s North End is an indication of a growing gun problem in the city, according to police Chief Keith McCaskill.
Wayne Roger Michelle was shot to death in the 500 block of Manitoba Avenue on Saturday night. It was just one of many violent acts that occurred in the city over the weekend. In less than 24 hours, four men were shot and five people were seriously assaulted. ‘And not only is it difficult for our officers, but it’s difficult for the public that are in the neighbourhoods to have any sense of real safety any longer.’—Mike Sutherland, Winnipeg Police Association.
One of the shootings was a drive-by that targeted a house on Redwood Avenue, and officers reported responding to at least a dozen other suspected shootings. “This is pretty much off the charts in terms of the number of violent firearms-related offences that have occurred over the course of the weekend,” said Mike Sutherland, president of the Winnipeg Police Association. “And not only is it difficult for our officers, but it’s difficult for the public that are in the neighbourhoods to have any sense of real safety any longer because you just never know when the bullets are going to start flying.”
The high numbers of gun calls police rushed to this weekend are part of gang retaliation in the North End, said McCaskill. He said the street crimes unit was on the ground there all weekend and were able to perform CPR on one shooting victim because they heard the gunfire themselves. Witnesses afraid to come forward According to McCaskill, who acknowledged that many people are too afraid to come forward as witnesses in the North End, police have plans to get more officers embedded in the affected communities, and that recruiting informants is one way to reduce gang violence.
The gang situation is coming to a head, said Sutherland, adding there needs to be a more organized attack on gangs in the city, or this weekend’s violence will only be the start. “At some point we’re going to need to take serious steps or this is going to become relatively commonplace, not just this weekend and not just in certain neighbourhoods within the city but in many other neighbourhoods within the city,” Sutherland said. In response to the increase of gun-related crimes, Sutherland suggested a project similar to Winnipeg’s Auto Theft Suppression Strategy. The monitoring program, launched in 2005, contacts the highest-risk auto thieves every three hours with at least one in-person visit every day. It will cost money and require buy-in frm the courts and the justice system, he said, but it would be worth it.
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