Community group proposes downtown cameras to thwart Winnipeg crime

Click to play video: 'How to solve Winnipeg’s violent crime problem' How to solve Winnipeg’s violent crime problem
An attack on two Ukrainian refugees at The Forks on Canada Day is highlighting concerns over the safety of Winnipeg and its downtown core. Global's Rosanna Hempel looks at the rise in violent crime and what solutions are on the table. – Jul 5, 2022

Violent crime is on the rise in Winnipeg, with downtown areas like the Forks garnering headlines in recent weeks for shocking incidents, like a stabbing that sent a Ukrainian refugee to hospital on Canada Day.

A downtown community group says it wants to create a camera system to increase safety in the core area.

Downtown Community Safety Partnership’s Greg Burnett told 680 CJOB he thinks more surveillance would not only help the most vulnerable residents of downtown, but other agencies as well.

“We want it to be a community focus — really supporting the community, emergency services, our own people, and trying to promote safer areas within the downtown,” Burnett said.

“(The area) would be monitored and watched for health and well-being issues as well as the safety stuff … and supporting everybody as best we can.”

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Read more: Winnipeg man who witnessed attack on Ukrainian immigrant says he’s embarrassed for city

Burnett said the goal is to start small — with only 10-20 cameras — and to grow from there, although he acknowledged not everyone may be thrilled about the idea of constant surveillance.

“I think that’s why it’s important to emphasize transparency, accountability, the community side of this,” he said.

“Having the right policies and practices in place (will) reassure the public that we’re doing this for the right reasons, and really trying to get help and to really promote a safer downtown.”

Although violent downtown crime is in the news since pandemic restrictions were loosened in recent months, Burnett said the organization was planning a similar initiative as early as 2019, which was stymied by the onset of COVID-19.

Winnipeg police told Global News they will discuss the uptick in violent crime when Police Chief Danny Smyth releases the service’s annual report next week.

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