The city’s methamphetamine epidemic has Winnipeg police ready for the potential of an increased demand on resources this summer.
Winnipeg Police Service spokesperson Const. Jay Murray made the remarks Friday during an update on Thursday’s suspected meth-fueled rampage, which ended in the Chalmers neighbourhood. Officers said a crime spree culminated in a more than six-hour standoff on Nairn Avenue that came to a close when a suspect set fire to a home he’d walked into uninvited while he was inside, alone.
A man was rescued from the burning building by police. He was treated in hospital for smoke inhalation and now remains in custody.
Murray told reporters investigators are looking into whether meth use played a role in a crime spree they allege the suspect went on prior to the standoff, which included a robbery, a car crash, and threatening to shoot police.
Gordon William Kovich, 29, has been charged with a multitude of offences including arson, break and enter and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.
“Anecdotally, from what I’ve seen and in speaking with other officers, we feel that this summer is going to be unlike any other summer,” said Murray. “We don’t know what the future could bring but based on what we’ve seen certainly the methamphetamine crisis has increased the demands on police resources and significantly, too.”
“There’s these unusual, bizarre incidents that seem to be happening in an increasing frequency and I think a lot of that can be correlated to the methamphetamine crisis.”
Police are also dealing with high levels of violent crime. So far in Winnipeg in 2019 there have been 16 homicides and officers are expected to release more details Saturday on two additional homicides which would bring the total up to 18.
“We’ve had a number of incidents, there’s been an increase in homicides this year. There’s been an increase in officer-involved shootings – the use of force incidents that we’ve talked about.”
There was a total of 22 homicides in Winnipeg in 2018.