Steinbach MLA and Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced that the province has introduced the Police Services Amendment Act, that would create a new, layered public safety model to expand the scope and authority of community safety officers, allowing additional options for municipalities to support safety in their communities.
“Our government has listened to Manitobans, as well as municipal and Indigenous leaders on what they need to feel safe in their communities and we are taking concrete action to help make communities safer,” said Goertzen. “These amendments would allow the City of Winnipeg the option to create a team of community safety officers that can be dedicated to transit safety and allow other municipalities to better protect their communities.”
Community safety officers are an integral part of the public safety landscape, said the minister, including important work delivering crime prevention programs, connecting people in need with appropriate social services and maintaining a visible presence in the community.
The proposed amendments to the Police Services Act would expand the scope and authority of community safety officers to enforce provincial statutes and bylaws, and to respond to a range of lower-risk incidents that do not require investigative or tactical interventions, freeing up police to respond to violent and complex crime.
“Safety on our transit system has become a significant concern for Winnipeggers,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham, City of Winnipeg. “The proposed transit security team will enhance safety for both transit drivers and riders. These community safety officers will also be another resource to help connect those struggling with addiction, mental health or housing challenges with the supports they need.”
The minister noted the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance’s Independent Review of the Manitoba Police Services Act , released in November 2020, contained 70 recommendations to support greater responsiveness and accountability in policing.
The introduction of the Police Services Amendment Act represents the third phase of the government’s strategy to implement the review’s recommendations, said Goertzen.