Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

Last night was Halloween. My husband and I spent a few evening hours handing out candy to local ghosts, monkeys, and pumpkins. The streets were not crowded with costumed kiddies, but there was a fairly steady stream. The kids were happily running and skipping down the street, collecting loot from a handful of houses. There were a lot of kids with parents, people trick or treating in packs, a group of teen age girls with a father in tow, and an older brother watching over his costumed sister.
Between the ghosts and goblins, we socialized with the neighbours. The street had a friendly and fun feel to it. It was halloween, and everyone was out to enjoy the evening.
I remember last halloween, we picked up treats to hand out and we also took treats to the Friendship Center. We were not sure how many kids would come to the house, but wanted to have something for the kids that were out trick or treating on our block. Last year, halloween came on the heels of a triple shooting that left two people dead. And last year, we were told the shootings were random, unrelated events. That is what shook us the most, that the shootings could have happened to random, untargetted individuals. It shook us because it could just as easily have been us.
This year, we had the same sort of incidents. We had two murders, another gun shot and a few stabbings the weekend before halloween. They were spread throughout the weekend and throughout the City.
We learned only recently that last years shootings had gang connections, and this morning we learn that the two homicides had gang ties, as well as the third gun shot. Further to that, most of the violent incidents happen in the wee hours of the morning.
I find it odd that so many people would bring so much fear to the event of trick or treating. This event happens in the early evening. It brings home owners to their doors and on their streets. It crowds the streets with kids and parents. No gang banger is going to try something when the streets have that many eyes.
Now that we know the random triple shooting of last year has actual gang ties to it, it becomes just another tragic story in the lives of gang members, and it takes away the threat that it could happen to the law abiding citizens of the City. I wonder how long the WPS knew about the gang ties. And I wonder why it took a full year to let us know the gang connections. And did they know about the gang connections in this last weekend's violence prior to last evenings trick or treating events? That may have eased a bit of tension in going out for an evening of fun with the little goblins.
Last night was for the kids, the ghosts and goblins, and the monkey and pumpkin that come to my door.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Crime Stat vrs Police Releases

The topic of crimes being reported in Winnipeg keeps coming up. In the latest blog post from Policing, Politics and Public Policy Menno Zacharias compares crimes reported in the Police Releases to the ones listed on the CrimeStat database on the City of Winnipeg Police website. He compares the month of September, 2011 which shows 787 items listed in CrimeStat with the Police Reports that list only 10 of those crimes.
Brian Kelsey at the State of the City blog has been blogging about the safety of the downtown, and the way crimes are being reported, and not reported. He mentioned three specific crime categories that are omitted from the CrimeStat database; those being stabbings, assaults, and arsons.
Well, today I had a look at just one day, October 28, 2011. I received 4 emails Oct 28 and 1 email on Oct 29 from the Winnipeg Police Service regarding that day. They are as follows:
  • Public Advisor - 9:05am - Notice that there will be a procession going down Portage Ave protesting the CWB activities.
  • News Release - 11:05am - Halloween Safety Tips
  • News Release - 11:40am - Stabbing 2:00am (C11-226798) female robbed at Main & Stella, Commercial Robbery 2:00am (C11-226796) 400 block of Edison Ave
  • News Release - 3:05pm - Male Wanted (R11-88976) for theft and fraud investigation
  • News Release - Oct 29 11:02am - Commercial Robbert 5:00am (C11-226866) 800 block of Ellice Ave, police located male w/ gun shot wound transported to hospital in critical condition, later upgraded to stable.
When I look at the CrimeStat map for the day in question, the stabbing shows as an assault, and although gun shots are reported on CrimeStat, this gun shot is not listed.

It is possible that the gun shot icon will appear in the next few days, as the report appeared on Saturday in my email. But how do you explain police reports listing a stabbing at Main and Stella and the CrimeStat listing a non-commercial robbery? Are all stabbings down graded to show as robberies or other lesser crimes? Or does CrimeStat just feel the theft of personal property is a far more interesting statistic than the stabbing of a human being?
What is the actual purpose of the CrimeStat map on the WPS website? Is it to arm citizens with valuable information on crimes being committed throughout Winnipeg? Or is it designed to create illusions of Winnipeg as City Hall sees fit? How many crimes have been downgraded from their original Police Report listing to show as minor issues on the CrimeStat map.
I, for one, would like to know who makes the decisions on the categories listed on CrimeStat. And further to that, I want to know who decides which category icon will be used to report specific crimes.
Start listing stabbings, arsons and assaults on CrimeStat map. Lets have a look at the crimes actually happening in Winnipeg for a change. List them, or tell us why they have been excluded.