The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Monday, December 29, 2008

BR: The Crime Story as told by Crimestat Winnipeg

Hold the marble.

It's too early to be erecting a statue of Mayor Sam Katz---but a small bust might be considered.

Exactly two years ago we chose Sam Katz as The Black Rod's Newsmaker of the Year. He had just won election, crushing his opponents, and he was promoting the crime reduction initiatives he planned to introduce the following year. We wrote at the time:

"Where "the visionary" Glen Murray ignored the crime problem, Katz has promised it will be a priority in his next term of office. He said he will introduce Crimestat, a computer-aided dispatch system for police, of the kind that helped turn the tide against crime in New York City in the Nineties. If he manages to get the same results as New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, they'll be erecting statues of Sam at City Hall."

The end of 2008 lets us compare two years of Crimestat. It consists of two components.

The public half is a website which posts incidents of crime on a map of the city divided into districts. Check your district and you can see the car thefts, house break-ins, and robberies in your neighbourhood.

The other half is a system by which police resources are focussed on parts of town where computer analysis shows a concentration of crimes. So if there is an outbreak of garage break-ins in a section of the city, extra patrol cars are sent in and more cars of non-residents would be spot-checked, for example.

The public Crimestat is a dud.

The crime map is almost two weeks old. By the time you see there has been a rash of car thefts on your street, either your car has been stolen or the thieves have moved elsewhere. It does nothing to help citizens prevent becoming victims of crime.

The internal Crimestat is another animal.

There are signs that, when it works, it's working exceptionally well.

* The biggest surprise of Crimestat 2008 is the reduction of store and bank robberies by 49 percent.

Cutting robbery by half in one year is a success beyond anyone's imagination. In District 3, aka the North End, the reduction was 58 percent. Somebody is doing something right and not getting the applause they deserve.

For the record, the number of reported commercial robberies as of Dec. 21 was 338 compared to 665 the previous year.

But there's a related crime stat that's not so great.

* The number of non-commercial robberies is down, officially, by 7 percent. The number is irrelevant. The nature of the crime is not.

Robbery - Non Commercial / Financial is the formal term and it is a grab-bag of crimes against individuals in which theft was accompanied by violence or threats of violence. These crimes include purse snatching, being robbed of name brand clothing, carjacking, or home invasion.

People hear of a 7-11 robbery and shrug.

But a purse snatching, a home invasion, theft of your child's Ipod or jacket---these are crimes that impact people and steal their sense of public safety.

Crimestat has a record of 1173 of these crimes this year, more than three times the number of commercial robberies.
The best place to be robbed is in District 1, downtown and the Inner City, where 500 incidents were reported, almost half the city's total.

An alleged small reduction of these crimes means nothing, since it could simply be fewer people reporting having their goods stolen. The large number of these crimes means everything. It's a reflection of the expansion of gangs and of general lawlessness, primarily among youth, under the NDP's holistic approach to crime. It's something that needs to be watched carefully in the new year.

* The homicide rate in Winnipeg remains high. There have been 28 criminal deaths to date. But what's notable is the shift in where the killings are taking place.

The homicide rate in District 3, the North End, dropped 60 percent. Yes, SIXTY percent, from 15 last year to six this year.

But in District 1, downtown and the Inner City, the rate rose 80 percent, from 10 to 18.

The most violent of crimes is now a phenomenon of the Inner City (formerly known as the Core Area) and NOT the North End.

Can we attribute this to Operation Light Dusting, the Mayor's half-hearted version of Operation Clean Sweep which he belatedly introduced after an unprecedented number of murders and shootings on and around Magnus Avenue? If so, the worst decision the police department can make is to remove the extra police presence in the North End and send it to District 1.

If something is successful, you don't dismantle it, you replicate it. Sounds simple; lets see if the big foreheads paid the big bucks can figure it out.

* Let's turn to something closer to home, literally. The number of residential break-ins is down 25 percent in one year. That's a significant figure. But break-ins rose in District 1 by 4 percent. On the other hand they dropped 36 percent in District 3, perhaps demonstrating again how crime is shifting in the city.

For the record, there were:

632 house break-ins in District 3
584 in District 1.
381 in District 6 and
226 in District 2.

You might have noticed we are ignoring District 5. The new amalgamation of of East Kildonan and St. Vital creates a section of the city so large that crime stats for the entire area are meaningless.

Commercial break-ins in the North End were down a whopping 46 percent, perhaps indicative of the success of Crimestat analysis of crime patterns.

Other break-ins, primarily into garages we would guess, are down 26 percent citywide, and 38 percent in the North End. While many garage break-ins are never reported, reductions of this magnitude show a definite downturn.

While the North End, District 3, had the most garage and other non-business, non-home break-ins with 388, it was District 6 (Fort Garry) that came in second with 316.

* But what about car theft, you ask? Isn't that the big success story of the year?


Nobody can claim they achieved anything regarding auto theft in Winnipeg. Not the Mayor. Not the police. Not MPI. Not the provincial government.


Because all of them, except the police, are responsible for the high rate of car theft in the first place. Do we praise an arsonist for setting only half the fires he set last year?

The authorities all want credit for the reduction of auto theft by 45 percent in 2008. So instead of 6400 cars stolen, give or take, there were 3500 plus.

No one wants to address the obvious, why were there 6400 cars being stolen in the first place?

Because of the NDP's race-based justice system.

The NDP refused and still refuses to take native car thieves into custody. So they were arrested, then released to steal as many cars as they could before being arrested again. Only after a series of high-profile deaths of innocent people caused by car thieves was the province forced to act.

The result was the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS). About 130 of the highest risk car thieves (l00 or more Level 4's and the rest Level 3's) are released from custody and heavily monitored to keep them from stealing more cars.

MPI boasts that "These Level 4 offenders are contacted up to 36 times per week under this program, compared to regular youth probation of two contacts per month." Or, in other words, we've turned highly trained police officers into round-the-clock babysitters.

We used to have an auto theft suppression strategy that was even more effective. It was called JAIL.

It was 100 percent effective in preventing car thieves in the program from stealing cars.
It was cheaper.
And it put police on the streets catching criminals instead of babysitting them.

The explosion of car theft in Winnipeg is a direct result of the NDP's race-based justice system.

Gord MacIntosh and Dave "Six Months" Chomiak will go to their graves with the blood of innocent victims on their hands because they refused to take the car thieves off the streets because of their ideological policies. They deserve no credit for a reduction of the number of car thefts which should not be taking place in the first place.

Neither does MPI. They have, for years, said the obvious---when car thieves are arrested, the number of thefts go down.

But they have refused to challenge the government publicly, permitting the NDP to dodge any accountability for the waste in lives and money their policies have caused.

MPI says that the "WATSS helps to control auto theft until the use of immobilizers becomes more widespread." Immobilizers are the other panacea being trotted out for the epidemic of car theft in Winnipeg.

The number of attempted auto theft incidents stands at 3385 compared with 6010 last year, a 44 percent reduction.

We're waiting for MPI to say what percentage of those cars broken into were equipped with immobilizers and what percentage were makes of automobiles at high risk of being stolen which could have benefited from immobilizers.

There are far too many unanswered questions about the alleged benefits of immobilizers for anyone to say they've had any effect on the level of car theft.

Crimestat so far says 2885 fewer cars were stolen in 2008, and 2625 fewer attempted thefts. Compare that to the 130 car thieves under round-the-clock watch at any time.

That's a ratio of roughly 22 fewer cars stolen for each car thief under watch. Police have said that Level 4 thieves steal up to 40 cars a year. Add the fewer attempts, and you can say the entire reduction in auto theft stats was due to keeping known car thieves from stealing cars.

Remove the thieves and you remove the thefts.

It's only taken the NDP 9 years to figure that one out.

And how many lives? Is MPI keeping count?

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