'It ignored the most important part': Advocate says downtown safety report missing piece of puzzle
WINNIPEG -- A prominent advocate for community safety in Winnipeg is speaking out in response to a report on downtown safety from Tuesday.
Sel Burrows said the Asper report, which was released by the Manitoba Police Commission, is missing a large piece of the puzzle.
“It ignored the most important part of crime prevention,” he said. “That’s the people who live in the community.”
The initial report on downtown safety was produced at the request of the province’s minister of justice. It included 27 recommendations, such as cracking down on panhandling, expanding the use of video surveillance, improved lighting, increased foot patrols, and establishing a safety communications centre for the downtown to help outreach groups coordinate efforts.
Burrows, the coordinator of Point Powerline, a community watch group in Point Douglas, said he likes the recommendation to add a communications centre. Burrows said it needs to be take a step further to include a phone line for residents to call if they want to report a crime.
“People who live in these apartment block and rooming houses know who the bad guys are,” he said. “They know who’s got a gun, they know who’s got a knife.”
He said in his experience, many people are more comfortable reporting a crime if it’s not to the authorities.
“If you live in a rooming house and you’re reporting the guy in the next room has a gun, you don’t want anybody, any chance whatsoever, that anyone would find out that you’re the person making that phone call.”
He said he doesn’t want to see efforts to improve safety fail, and that everyone wants downtown to improve.
“We could make downtown a safer place in two or three years if all of the people here work together, but what we have is people working in silos.”
This is just the first part of Burrows’ response to the Asper report. He said parts two and three will be released in the coming weeks