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Winnipeg police announce changes to investigations of MMIWG cases

Winnipeg police are changing the way in which officers investigate MMIWG cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Winnipeg police are making some major changes to the way they investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).

Police said on Friday that they will no longer have dedicated investigators assigned to Project Devote a task force reviewing MMIWG cases involving exploited people.

Instead, the Winnipeg Police Service will be consolidating resources from the homicide, counter-exploitation, missing persons and internet child exploitation units. Those officers will continue to liaise with Manitoba RCMP investigators working on Project Devote cases, according to the force.

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Police have also added a dedicated family liaison position to help investigators communicate with families and communities affected by MMIWG.

Officers plan to work closely with the city’s Indigenous community through the Winnipeg Outreach Network, an organization with representation from multiple grassroots groups providing services to Indigenous people.

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This news follows a previous realignment in November of last year when Winnipeg police officers with Project Devote were reassigned to the homicide unit due to a backlog of murder investigations.

Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth told 680 CJOB he sees the change as an example of the police increasing their resources to tackle MMIWG cases, rather than dropping a service.

“(Is it) us walking away from Devote… or broadening our ability to meet the needs of this service?

“This is an opportunity for us to come closer to the model that we presented when I testified at the missing and murdered inquiry,” said Smyth, “where we have community-led services that are supported by us, particularly in that area of counter-exploitation and missing persons.

“I really think of this as an expansion of our abilities here and not one where we’re walking away from it.”

Click to play video: 'Chief Danny Smyth says he is not pulling back from MMIWG' Chief Danny Smyth says he is not pulling back from MMIWG
Chief Danny Smyth says he is not pulling back from MMIWG – Nov 8, 2019

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