Winnipeg’s police chief says the violent crime that has recently taken place at The Forks and across the city is nothing new.
Danny Smyth spoke to media Friday afternoon and said he’s confident his officers on the front lines are making a difference.
Safety at The Forks has been a serious concern for many Winnipeggers after a spate of violent incidents over recent weeks, most notably an assault that saw a Ukrainian refugee stabbed in the neck on Canada Day.
Smyth said all violent crime is concerning to police, not only those incidents that happen in popular areas like The Forks.
“We’ve had stabbings there before, we’ve had homicides in the vicinity before,” he said.
“All stabbings and all homicides concern me, and it doesn’t matter where it happens in the city.
“I know The Forks is a special place for most in the city but it’s no less significant or more significant that a stabbing that occurred downtown or a stabbing that occurred in another part of the city. We take them all very seriously.”
Police, however, do intend to beef up their presence around the area.
Smyth said the police service has been working closely with stakeholders at The Forks and intends to — in the short term — add a full-time foot patrol to the area on weekends, among other changes.
Over the last five years, he said, police usually respond to about 40 to 60 calls at The Forks per year, and we’re on pace to meet that in 2022.
On Thursday, Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman called the Canada Day incident a “terrible situation” and said while he’s unable to direct police operations as mayor and doesn’t receive regular updates on specific incidents, he welcomed a forthcoming, timely response from police.
The Winnipeg Police Association also called for Smyth to speak publicly on the spike in violence.
Police said Thursday that three teens have been arrested in connection with a June 29 stabbing at the popular downtown meeting spot.
Police will present their annual report on the state of crime in the city next week.