Manitoba government invests in crime gun lab to combat firearms violence
July 20, 2023 By Government of Manitoba
July 20, 2023, Winnipeg, Man. – The Manitoba government is taking action to address the ongoing threat of firearm-related violence in the province by investing $5.2 million in a state-of-the-art Crime Gun Lab supporting firearm-related criminal investigations throughout Manitoba, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced.
“By establishing our own Crime Gun Lab, Manitoba will strengthen our existing capabilities to target, investigate and prosecute criminal activities involving gangs, guns and organized crime,” said Goertzen. “The lab will support professional, robust and dedicated investigations into firearms trafficking in Manitoba and enable the comprehensive analysis and archiving of all crime guns within the province, enhance intelligence co-ordination on illegal firearm trafficking, increase the number of firearms investigations and prosecutions, and ultimately reduce the use of illegal firearms and gun violence in the province.”
Firearm-related violence continues to pose a significant threat to public safety in Manitoba, with offenders often being associated with gangs and illicit drug operations, leading to a frequent occurrence of violence and loss of life. By investing in crime gun analysis and suppression, which includes the establishment of the Crime Gun Lab, Manitoba aims to adopt a co-ordinated and strategic approach to respond to firearm violence and mitigate associated risks.
Firearm tracing and ballistic imaging play integral roles in reducing crime gun violence, providing support to police investigations and prosecutions. However, the current process for firearms tracing and ballistic imaging varies among police agencies in Manitoba. While the Winnipeg Police Service has the most efficient process, ballistic leads can still take several days to process. Furthermore, it can take multiple months for the National Forensic Laboratory Service to conduct a forensic examination of ballistic evidence required for court purposes. The real-time co-ordination of firearm and violent crime investigations the Crime Gun Lab will provide to law enforcement will be critical for effective crime gun analysis and suppression, the minister said.
“The Winnipeg Police Service was one of the first police services in Canada to have the capability to directly input ballistic evidence into the Canadian Integrated Ballistics Identification Network. This was a significant step in the expansion of our investigative capabilities and we recognize the value that this can have for all Manitoba police agencies in addressing gun violence,” said Insp. Elton Hall, officer in charge of the Organized Crime Division, Winnipeg Police Service. “The expansion to a provincial firearms laboratory will deliver a full-service examination solution that will provide actionable forensic and investigative intelligence to law enforcement in a timely manner.”
“We need to continue to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and to ensure they are quickly held to account when they do make the decision to use a firearm to commit a crime,” said Insp. Paul Peddle, officer in charge, Central Plains Area for the Manitoba RCMP. “The Crime Gun Lab is an important step forward and the RCMP in Manitoba, and all communities within its jurisdiction, will benefit greatly from this new critical resource.”
The Crime Gun Lab will be established with an initial investment of $5.2 million and supported with an annual operating budget of $3.1 million, the minister noted.
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