When did the magic die?
A week ago the Winnipeg police department delivered the bad news---crime in the city is out of control.
The picture painted by the numbers (for 2018) was appalling.
Robberies up ten percent in a single year. (And that was the good news.)
Property crimes were up almost 20 percent.
Total crime was 33 percent higher than the five year average.
The measure of violent crime in Winnipeg had soared to a rating of 161. Only four years earlier it stood at 116. That's a 38 percent deterioration in safety.
How did it happen? How, when in 2015 the police and Winnipeg's police board announced they had discovered the magic solution to crime?
"Smart Policing" they called it.
A team of crime analysts would pore through data to spot crime hot-spots and as soon as they identified a trend (car thefts, muggings, liquor store robberies) they could call in police resources to descend on the problem and nip it.
The police board of the day was so confident in their magic bullet they published a series of goals for the police to achieve by--wait for it---2019.
* drop the overall crime index by 25 percent
* wrestle the violent crime rating down by 25 percent
* have police, who by then wouldn't be run off their feet, spend a third of their time on crime prevention and "proactive policing"
The reality of 2019 is not even close. IT would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.
One word describes the plan---failure.
Maybe three words--total abject failure.
The blame doesn't lie with policing. The rank-and-file are so overwhelmed with calls that only recently Police Chief Danny Smyth felt he had to send them a letter apologizing for the state of affairs.
The failure we are seeing every day is a failure of leadership.
The boom in crime didn't happen overnight. It's been growing for four years.
Danny Smyth has been chief of police for the past two years and prior to that was a deputy chief.
He has been guiding the police response from the moment that the crime rate began to reverse itself and climb into the stratosphere.
He had to have known years ago that the wheels had fallen off the magic crime- answer bus. It was his job to sound the alarm and come up with a new plan.
He failed and he must be held accountable. Failed leadership must carry consequences. It's not enough to shrug and say, oh well, better luck next time.
Because the next time won't be any different from this time. The reason for Smyth's failure is obvious to everyone. He has never wanted to be a crime fighter. He wants to be a social worker.
He wants to attack the "root causes" of crime---addiction, homelessness, poverty. All the while people are suffering from the criminals he's coddling.
Three words were missing when Smyth announced the latest crime stats---victims of crime.
Apparently the people robbed, beaten, stabbed, murdered, and threatened by meth addicts are only afterthoughts to Danny Smyth.
Winnipeg needs a chief of police who is a crimefighter, not a wannabe social worker. Smyth is following in the footsteps of his predecessor Devon Clunis who had the foresight to quit before the consequence of his hug-a-thug policies became apparent.
Smyth should be given a decent (and short) opportunity to resign with honour. If he doesn't get the message, the police board should seize him by the scruff of the neck and give him the bum's rush.
The city can't wait any longer for a leader who recognizes that public safety comes first and foremost. Period. End of discussion.
When Rudy Guiliani became mayor of New York City he was told by the administration that crime was so entrenched in the city that neither he nor anyone else could do more than moderate it.
With the help of police commissioner Bill Bratton, Guiliani did the impossible. He used imaginative techniques to attack the crime problem and today New York City is one of the safest cities in America. True leadership only looks like magic.