Winnipeg’s Chief of Police told the city’s police board that the city has seen an “unusually violent year”, going on to say the force is seeing different kinds of deadly crime than it has in the past.
On Friday, Chief Danny Smyth said there’s no clear answer as to what’s leading to the homicides but stressed that police have seen a high number of deadly disputes, many of which involved drugs or alcohol.
Just shy of six months into 2019, Winnipeg has recorded 22 homicides, the same number of homicides seen in the city for all of 2018.
“Generally speaking we average about 22 homicides a year, but we’re well outside the norm for this year,” Smyth said,
Looking back over the past 40 years, Smyth said Winnipeg’s deadliest year was 2011 when there were 41 homicides.
In 2019, Smyth said nine of the homicides began as disputes, some between strangers and others between people who knew each other.
“If you look at past years you can almost predict that third of the murders would be domestic, a third would be gang-related. We’re not really seeing that this year,” Smyth said.
Smyth thanked Winnipeg paramedics, saying there were many instances of people being rushed to hospital following violent crime. He then said the homicide rate could have “easily been higher” because of such violence.
The police service has logged over 9000 hours of overtime related to the homicides, with much of the overtime falling on homicide investigators.
Both top brass and the union representing police in Winnipeg stressed this type of work takes a physical and emotional toll on officers.
Winnipeg Police Association’s president Moe Sabourin said that members are also exposed to the violence.
“They are being run from pillar to post,” Sabourin said.