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Proceeds of crime funding a big boost to Manitoba Citizens on Patrol

Winnipeg COPP members patrol the neighbourhood for suspicious activity. File /Global News

The distribution of money from the Federal Proceeds of Crime Fund to Manitoba crime prevention organizations is music to the ears of a local community group.

Manitoba’s Citizens on Patrol Program (COPP), a community-based crime prevention initiative, will be receiving $110,000, and its chair Detlef Hindemith says it’ll go a long way toward keeping local communities safe.

“This is just wonderful news for us,” Hindemith told 680 CJOB.

“We’d been sitting on pins and needles to see if we’d be able to get any funding from the province. This couldn’t come at a better time for us… It comes at a time when our equipment inventory is critically low.”

Hindemith said the 29-year-old volunteer organization, which observes suspicious behaviour in communities and alerts law enforcement, has around 500 members in 55 registered groups across Manitoba.

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Those members, he said, need training, safety equipment, identification, promotional material and more.

“It’s a proven strategy for crime prevention, by utilizing normal citizens to go out and watch for suspicious criminal activity — observe it, document it and report it to law enforcement,” he said.

“This is almost an extension of policing, really, having an extra set of eyes and ears… We don’t get actively involved in apprehending anybody or any sort of detention at all or confrontation.”

Hindemith said just having members out in the community — with reflective safety vests and magnetic COPP signs on their vehicles — is a deterrent against would-be criminals.

“Criminals,” he said, “don’t like to be seen.”

Read more: Winnipeg’s downtown safety partnership to feature 24-7 outreach teams, communications centre

COPP isn’t the only local crime prevention group receiving financial assistance from the proceeds of crime fund.

The province said Friday that it will also give $48,000 to CrimeStoppers.

“The Manitoba government is taking money made through illegal activity and re-investing it in community-based crime prevention programs that support public safety,” said Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen.

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“I’m pleased to announce this support, which will help to ensure these programs have the tools they need to help keep Manitobans safe. Our government appreciates the efforts of the hard-working and dedicated volunteers who help strengthen our communities.”

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