Seized criminal assets supporting police and community programs in Northern Manitoba

RCMP detachments in Northern Manitoba are receiving at least $200,000 from the province’s Criminal Property Forfeiture Program, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced May 13.

The funding, part of more than $546,000 to provide new resources for law enforcement around the province, includes $75,000 for the Shamattawa detachment, $30,000 for Moose Lake, $16,000 for Snow Lake and $7,200 for Norway House.

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The money will be used to support a Girl Guides camp for 40 girls and young women in Shamattawa, to establish a community garden and wellness area in Moose Lake, to expand a junior rangers outdoor program for young people operated through the Snow Lake RCMP detachment, and to provide animal care sessions and workshops on building doghouses in Norway House to support stronger animal protection in the community.

“Many of these initiatives came about because of the engagement and innovative thinking of RCMP officers in communities across northern and rural Manitoba,” said Cullen. “Our government is proud to support crime prevention projects that are led by the dedicated frontline officers who work hard every day to keep Manitobans safe.”

Other Northern Manitoba initiatives being funded include expanding the WITS (Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help) program to reduce bullying and peer victimization to schools in Shamattawa, Nelson House, South Indian Lake, Oxford House and Leaf Rapids, which is also getting money to rebuild a community hiking trail and support a traditional educational program and to purchase hockey equipment that can be signed out of the Leaf Rapids RCMP detachment to encourage involvement in recreational programs. Two commercial-grade tents will be purchased for use during an annual family camp-out in the Sandy Bay area of Cross Lake, which intends to foster positive relationships between police, the community and families.

The Thompson RCMP detachment will also be receiving $70,000 for specialized equipment to help police process cash seized in investigations more quickly and to support improved communications systems for the explosives disposal unit to use when responding to incidents.

More than $50,000 in criminal property has been seized in Thompson since April 2018, including $4,720 on Public Road Jan. 31 and $1,760 on Eider Bay April 1.

The provincial government is also providing about $225,000 from its share of the federal proceeds of crime fund to evaluate the effectiveness of community mobilization initiatives in Brandon and Portage la Prairie, to support the restorative justice committee in Portage la Prairie, and to expand the use of the HealthIM response tool, which helps police officers determine the most appropriate response for someone having a mental health crisis based on officer’s observations and a risk assessment tool.

The province invested $310,000 last year to make the HealthIM tool available to the Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service and RCMP detachments in Thompson, Portage la Prairie and Steinbach.

“While our officers are trained in determining the best course of action, it’s not always easy to determine if a mental health issue is a contributing factor in the behaviour being displayed.  With HealthIM, we can improve the care provided to these individuals,” said Manitoba RCMP commanding officer Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy. “Additional funding for programs supported by the RCMP will have lasting effects toward crime prevention and reduction, not only for the youth involved, but for the communities in which they live.”

“The HealthIM system can be used to help resolve situations safely, both for people in the midst of a mental health crisis and the police officers who respond,” said Cullen. “This is part of our government’s commitment to utilizing police resources more effectively to combat serious, violent crime.” 

Criminal property forfeiture is a civil court process through which the provincial government can apply to confiscate property or proceeds of unlawful activity, as well as property suspected to have been used in the commission of crimes. It is separate from the criminal justice system and seizures are initiated against property, rather than people. More than $1.6 million from the program is being distributed to Manitoba law enforcement agencies in Manitoba this year. Since the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act was made law in 2009, $2.7 million of seized property has gone to individual crime victims and the Victims’ Assistance Fund and nearly $6 million has gone to law enforcement agencies. Property with little or no commercial value such as light bulbs, timers and fans care donated to community greenhouses, schools and other organizations. About $80,000 worth of this property has been donated in the last six years.

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