Stations to close, officers being redeployed as Winnipeg police chief says ‘every category of violent crime has gone up’ except arson

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Police Service is going through a rapid reorganization that will see stations close to the public temporarily, officers pulled from a joint task force, and traffic enforcement reduced as police cope with a spike in violent and property crime.

“Every category of violent crime has gone up this past year, with the exception of arson,” said Chief Danny Smyth, with the Winnipeg Police Service.

“And I expect 2019 collectively will be worse than 18.”

Smyth said property crime has gone up in every area of the city, and mentioned brazen thefts at liquor and other stores. 

“People don’t feel safe walking after dark,” he said. 

Smyth said to deal with a spike in homicides officers have been pulled from integrated projects with the RCMP, including Project Devote and a joint intelligence unit.

He also said to assign more officers to general patrol and foot patrols downtown, traffic enforcement will be reduced and the checkstop program will be scaled back, three community police stations will close to the public temporarily, and school-based education programs will be reduced. 

Smyth said the changes are needed to address a backlog of cases and the “health and wellness of our frontline officers who have been put under a tremendous amount of strain.”

This is a breaking news update. This story will be updated.