Manitoba launches task force to tackle violent crime in rural communties

Manitoba has launched a specialized task force to deal with violent crime in some rural communities. Brittany Greenslade reports.

Manitoba has launched a specialized task force to deal with violent crime in some rural communities.

Manitoba RCMP superintendent Scott McMurchy said Friday that the new initiative, known as the Strategic Enforcement Response Team (SERT) is aimed at targeting violent crime in certain communities — particularly crime driven by prolific offenders and members of street gangs.

The task force will use a phased approach to tackle these offenders — first gathering data and entering critical information about crimes and offenders into the RCMP’s database, which will then be pored over by analysts looking for patterns in areas where violent crime has spiked.

Their analysis will be passed on to major crimes officers, who will collect further investigative details and seek search warrants where needed.

The second phase, enforcement, will include operational plans to back up local detachments with resources from across Manitoba to help where needed, including emergency response teams, police dog services, air services, and more.

“By using an intelligence-led approach that uses the skills of every facet of our organization, we believe SERT will have a real and immediate impact on community safety,” McMurchy said.

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Although the creation of SERT was announced publicly for the first time Friday, the task force has already seen action, RCMP said.

It was involved in a number of late-July arrests in and around the community of Moose Lake — selected due to its recent increases in gang, firearm and violent crime activity.

McMurchy said the action resulted in multiple arrests in connection with a Moose Lake illicit drug trafficking network, as well as links to street gangs operating throughout northern Manitoba.

“Pursuing these gang members and violent offenders with targeted resources will help to address the violent criminal activity harming many Manitoban communities,” justice minister Kelvin Goertzen said Friday.

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