The provincial government is funding Winnipeg police training and equipment to the tune of $17,000, via the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund, Manitoba’s justice minister announced Tuesday.
Kelvin Goertzen said the money will help city cops better track and restore serial numbers from seized firearms, and will be used to create a safe workspace environment for firearms investigations and training.
“The ability to restore serial numbers from seized firearms will provide valuable, timely information to officers investigating firearm-related crimes including shootings and firearm trafficking,” said Goertzen.
“This funding will help investigators trace the origin of firearms, identify suspects and determine how criminals are illegally acquiring firearms. This important work will lead to the removal of firearms from the streets of Winnipeg, and to the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators, which will make our city safer.”
Insp. Elton Hall, officer-in-charge of the organized crime division, said Tuesday that Winnipeg police have been working on restoring serial numbers to guns used in the commission of crime for years now, beginning as a 2010 pilot project before becoming an official unit — the firearms investigative analysis section — within the police service.
“Any firearm with its serial number obliterated is a crime gun and is a trademark of a smuggled or trafficked firearm that is used for a criminal purpose,” Hall said.
“Removing the serial number is done in order to prevent tracing of the firearm and allows smuggling and trafficking groups to remain active.”
According to police, 859 crime-related guns were seized last year — a significant increase over the 721 the previous year.