The Manitoba government is formalizing its ongoing collaboration on retail thefts with law enforcement partners, in consultation with Manitoba Liquor Lotteries and other stakeholders through Operation Safe Streets.
“We have always worked closely with our law enforcement partners and other stakeholders, and now, Operation Safe Streets will build on this important work by bringing the right people around the table to continue this important dialogue,” Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said. “Operation Safe Streets will be another crime-fighting tool as part of our overarching Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan, which takes a whole-of-government approach and recognizes that we can accomplish more when we work together.”
Operation Safe Streets is an operations table model used by law enforcement. It will consist of the Winnipeg Police Service, RCMP and other representatives from law enforcement, including security from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, the minister noted.
Operation Safe Streets is a direct response to the increased incidents at Manitoba Liquor Marts and will build on the Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan, which focuses on treatment, education and enforcement.
Additional public safety initiatives will include:
- launching a new Crime Stoppers advertising campaign in Winnipeg, Brandon and rural Manitoba including more cash for drug tips; and
- taking steps to improve the sharing of criminal intelligence between the RCMP and municipal police forces, including joint forces operations, and greater support for tactical enforcement by the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).
In order to support these enhanced enforcement efforts, the government will make it easier to seize and liquidate drug money and drug dealers’ assets by expanding the civil forfeiture process, Cullen said.
“The rate and severity of these brazen thefts and robberies occurring in Winnipeg continues to be incredibly concerning because everyone should feel safe when they go to work,” said Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton. “Our government is committed to a comprehensive whole-of-government approach to addressing theft, reducing violence, and improving mental health and addictions in our province.”
Over the past year, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries has been working to address the growing issue of theft by implementing a number of security and theft deterrent measures in stores including adding bottle locks, lockable display cases, dummy bottles, restricted area access control to prevent stockroom access and rotating special duty constables (WPS) throughout stores across Winnipeg.
Most recently, Manitoba Liquor Marts has started transitioning to controlled entrances and all customers will be required to provide valid photo identification before entry into the store is permitted.
Since the start of its second mandate, the Manitoba government has taken numerous steps to implement the Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan.
The province has announced since September a number of additional public safety investments including:
- announcing a $1.9-million annual investment to support the expansion of RCMP crime reduction and enforcement teams to focus on serious, prolific offenders and drug dealers;
- investing approximately $516,000 in the Winnipeg Police Service, including new computer workstations for the technological crimes unit, which will improve its ability to process digital evidence and more effectively investigate crime and a drone to provide aerial support for search and rescue operations and tactical support, using infrared and other technology;
- investing nearly $41,000 from criminal property forfeiture with Altona, Winkler and Morden police services, for a regional crisis negotiation unit and other resources;
- providing additional criminal property forfeiture investments for the Manitoba First Nations Police Service for a new K9 Unit vehicle ($70,000), Rivers Police Service ($6,400) and Springfield Police Service ($20,000); and
- investing $65,000 in the community mobilization hub serving Portage la Prairie.
Additionally, more than 100 initiatives addressing mental health and addictions have been implemented across all of government since 2016. Since October, 12 projects totaling at least $20.6 million have been announced to support stronger mental health and addictions services in Manitoba.