Winnipeg is paying a high price for turning police into babysitters.
And politicians who thought they would coast into the 2010 civic election, or the 2011 provincial election, on sharp reductions in crime are in for a hell of a surprise.
They've been busy this week patting themselves on the back for the "success" of the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS)---they even held a special ceremony at the Legislature to announce WATSS was a finalist for an American policing award.
But they went too far when, with the shameful assistance of the Winnipeg Police Service, they tried to hide the truth from the public.
The car-theft suppression strategy, in a nutshell, consists of sending police on regular visits to the homes of the worst car thieves to make sure they're tucked into bed at night and have enough milk and cookies to last until the morning without needing to venture out of the house and steal a car to get some.
It's been so successful, according to its proponents (the government, the police, Manitoba Pubic Insurance), that car thefts have been cut 76 percent from 2004 to April, 2009.
And all that, allegedly, without a sign that the car thieves are just turning to other crimes.
As put in Manitoba's official submission to the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing, 2009:
Displacement or Diffusion of Benefits?
"There were concerns that if WATSS was successful in reducing vehicle theft there would be an increase in carjackings and in crimes such as break and enter and robbery.
However, there have been virtually no carjackings in Winnipeg and rates of break and enter, robbery, and theft from auto have declined over the past 2 years. Figures 5 and 6 show the relationships between vehicle thefts and theft from vehicles and break and enter. The evidence suggests a diffusion of benefits rather than displacement to other offenses. This is likely because the intensive supervision has helped the youth stay out of trouble and because the work of probation staff has helped some to change their behaviour."
HIT THE BRAKES!!!!
That's a lie.
There's no other way to say it.
In fact, the police officers who put their names to this report deserve to be identified: Insp. Tom Kloczko, Sgt. Gerry Mauws and Det./Sgt. Kevin Kavitch.
Maybe some MSM reporter can ask them why they thought they could get away with misleading the public so blatantly.
A quick glance at Winnipeg's Crimestat webpage will show you that home break-ins are UP a shocking 21 percent this year.
And muggings, strong-arm robberies, purse-snatchings and home invasions (tactfully described as Robbery/Non-commercial) are up 39 percent from last year.
We spotted the trend six months ago.
The MSM has still to catch on.
Break-ins to garages are up 5 percent officially, but since everyone knows most of these aren't reported to police, the real number is probably double or triple that.
And that's the meat and potatoes of the crime stats. Look at the periphery and it doesn't get any better.
Sex assault is up 52 percent.
Shooting incidents are up 12 percent.
Homicides haven't dropped.
Carjackings? Crimestat doesn't list those, but the newspapers do. Here's a sampling from a one-week period in late November-early December.
Assault, gun used in carjackings
By ROSS ROMANIUK, SUN MEDIA
3rd December 2009
Winnipeg saw two more car-jackings yesterday, with one incident involving an assault and the other a firearm.
The first incident occurred about 1:45 a.m., when a male suspect holding a gun allegedly confronted two occupants in a vehicle on the 400 block of Alexander Avenue in the core area.
The second incident saw a 64-year-old man attacked by two male suspects, who had found him in a vehicle parked on the 200 block of Cathedral Avenue in the North End.
The suspects forced the victim out of the vehicle, assaulted him and drove away in it.
Two suspects wanted in carjacking attempts
By SUN MEDIA
Last Updated: 26th November 2009, 11:55am
Winnipeg police are searching for two suspects in a pair of attempted carjackings on Wednesday.
Police say the first incident happened around 9 p.m. in the 400 block of St. Johns Avenue. Two suspects, one armed with a gun, demanded that a 39-year-old woman hand over the keys to her vehicle.
About 20 minutes later, two suspects approached a 42-year-old man and 38-year-old woman in the 300 block of Burrows Avenue. One of the suspects again had a gun.
The suspects demanded the woman's car keys but fled when the man exited the victims' home, said police.
A lazy reporter looking at Crimestat will read the bottom line and see a 12 percent reduction in the crimes being monitored.
But filter out car theft and there's a 12 percent INCREASE in crime this year.
We shudder at what next year brings.
We've said it before and we'll say it again. Nobody in government deserves credit for stopping the car theft epidemic because they're responsible for creating it in the first place.
If the Health Minister was responsible for spreading swine flu at a school, would you give her an award for the ambulances that took sick children to hospital, the ventilators that kept them breathing, and the wreaths sent to their funerals?
We used to have professional babysitters looking after criminals. They were called jail guards. They had a 100 percent success rate. Nobody in custody stole a car.
Then, in 2002, the Liberal government passed the Youth Justice Act which essentially removed jail as a deterrent to under-18 criminals.
The NDP in Ottawa, including Greg Selinger's right hand man Bill Blaikie, wholeheartedly supported the Act, to the point that their justice critic Joe Comartin bragged that they deliberately kept deterrence and denunciation out of the Act to reduce the sentences that judges could impose.
Car thefts in Manitoba skyrocketed in the following years.
The Manitoba NDP professed concern, but did little.
You won't believe what happened next. The Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy award submission spelled it out:
"(In 2006) A supervisor in the WPS Stolen Auto Unit looked at the relationship between the number of the top 50 offenders who were in the community each day and the number of cars stolen on that day (See Figure 3). This clearly shows that the more of this group who were on the street each day, the more cars that were stolen."
"Other crime analysis data supported this conclusion. For example, the police knew that certain young offenders preferred particular models of vehicles and when they were in custody or under effective supervision in the community, thefts of these particular types of vehicles dropped significantly. This finding highlighted the need for improving the offender-oriented approach used in the intensive supervision program."
The police-wait for it---had a meeting with Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh. He was so stunned by the finding, he found the money for another five police in the stolen auto unit. And the rest, as they say, is history.
It took a highly trained, highly experienced police officer to notice that when car thieves are in jail, car thefts fall, and when they get out, car thefts rise. But it took "other crime analysis data" to test this wild leap in logic.
C'mon. A 80-year-old Tagalog-speaking grandmother with her Grade 3 education could have told you that, without any "other crime analysis data" or any smarmy social-worker blather about "improving the offender-oriented approach."
What the submission doesn't say is that the NDP has known all along what is necessary to stop the car theft epidemic---take the thieves out of circulation. And if the criminal law couldn't be used, the province had civil child-protection law that could. But they refused to use it because most of the car thieves were, ahem, aboriginal in appearance, and they've been given a get-out-of-jail-free pass from the NDP. So instead, we turned police into babysitters while crime crept up and up.
But it worked didn't it?
Oh, did it? Any car thief who was a teenager when the Youth Justice Act was proclaimed is now an adult and subject to real penalties, like prison. Deterrence anyone?
Another vital piece of information in this award submission has gone unreported. The rate of car theft has been ratched down by a phenomenal percentage without denting the "root causes" of crime. How 'bout that.
They stopped car theft by stopping car thieves.
Not by attacking poverty first, or homelessness, or illiteracy, or unemployment.
Not by building basketball courts or drop-in centres.
Not by buying them energy-efficient furnaces (the Tom Simms answer to poverty).
Professional Reporters At Work
Winnipeg Free Press reporter Bruce Owen used the WATSS award submission (without saying so) as the basis for his Saturday analysis challenging the need for a police helicopter (we agree with his argument on that 100 percent).
But, uh, did he use it a little too closely?
Bruce Owen (Boots on ground better than helicopters in air, Winnipeg Free Press, Dec. 12, 2009)
"Police and justice officials feared that by going after car thieves, and by Manitoba Public Insurance bringing in a mandatory car ignition immobilizer program, there would be an increase in carjacking and in crimes such as break and enter and robbery.
That hasn't happened. Police say there have been virtually no carjackings in Winnipeg and rates of break and enter, robbery and theft from autos have declined over the past two years."
WATSS award submission, 2009
Displacement or Diffusion of Benefits?
""There were concerns that if WATSS was successful in reducing vehicle theft there would be an increase in carjackings and in crimes such as break and enter and robbery.
However, there have been virtually no carjackings in Winnipeg and rates of break and enter, robbery, and theft from auto have declined over the past 2 years."