Proceeds of crime to pay for Brandon Bear Clan bus, police forensic equipment

The Manitoba government is using $350,000 from its criminal forfeiture fund — crime-related property and cash the province has confiscated — to pay for a new van for the Brandon Bear Clan and specialized equipment for Brandon police.

Bear Clan is being given $80,000 to buy a minibus to serve a larger area of Brandon, distribute supplies and operate as a warming space in winter.

Jade Gamblin, an outreach worker for the Bear Clan, said the new vehicle is a step up from what they currently have.

“We currently have a little van, so we use it to carry all our supplies and to transport and to do our patrols, so it’s an add-on for sure,” she said at a news conference on Thursday.

“We look forward to being able to access more areas.”

A black Brandon Police Service cruiser.
The Brandon Police Service will receive $270,000 from proceeds of crime to pay for new forensic equipment and a new drone, among other things. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

The Brandon Police Service will receive the rest of the $270,000.

Roughly $64,000 will be used to improve its forensic identification unit by buying evidence-gathering equipment.

Police will also use $22,000 to replace their outdated drone, which Brandon Police Chief Wayne Balcaen said will help officers in myriad ways.

“It can give us a great aerial view, allow us to look for evidence. If we have an ongoing situation, we can use it for aerial intelligence to feed back to our members if there’s dangers there or people escaping,” he said at the news conference.

It can also pick up heat sources to locate missing people, he said.

The announcement comes the day after the province announced it wants to sell six homes seized under the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act for $1 each to an Indigenous or non-profit organization that can develop affordable single-family homes for sale to low- and moderate-income families.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said the proceeds of crime seized by the province are meant to benefit people who have been victimized. 

“We want to ensure it goes to victims of crime, as well as law enforcement, as well as the Bear Clan, others who are helping in the whole process for victims of crime,” she said at the news conference.