Manitoba Justice Minister Cameron Friesen made stops in Altona, Winkler and Morden on Thursday to highlight over $95,000 in Criminal Property Forfeiture Grants for the three rural police departments.
"I am pleased, as the Government of Manitoba, to be able to put these proceeds to work to build safety and community in this area," said Friesen. "Manitobans know this program, they know that police services work hard to frustrate the efforts of crime and organized crime...we seize goods, we seize cash and we plow those funds back into worthy projects in the community."
Receiving $61,739 is the Altona Police Service, which will use over $36,000 to cover half the cost of a back-up generator in order to keep the lights on at the police station and local civic centre during extreme weather events and other power outages.
"The climate is changing - whether we want to call it Climate Change, cycles or whatever we want to label this - the fact is we're getting extreme weather and more and more the hydro is going out in our building," explained Altona Police Chief Perry Batchelor. "We're responsible for our officers, but we're also responsible for any overnight guests. We have emergency lighting, obviously, but that doesn't last very long, and when you don't have lights (or) windows it gets very dark."
As for the remainder of the funding, the Altona Police Service will allocate $25,000 to the Makerspace program at Youth For Christ - The Station, with the remainder spent on a ballistic shield for the Regional Support Tactical Team.
"These officers put their lives on the line at many, many calls," added Batchelor. "As you've seen in that last two media releases on our drug busts, both of them had firearms involved - one of them had firearms, explosives and a bulletproof vest. So that's what we're up against and we have to be prepared for that."
Meantime, over $22,000 is going to the Morden Police Service for an alcohol-approved screening device, and to continue the operation of its existing K9 unit as the current police service dog is nearing retirement.
“We are appreciative of the continued support we receive from the Criminal Property Forfeiture Program," said Morden Police Chief Brad Neduzak in a submitted statement to PembinaValleyOnline. "These monies help offset the costs of policing budgets which in turn allows us to provide enhanced services, better equipment for officers, and safer communities. The funding this year will help ensure the continued operation of our existing K9 unit. With our current Police Service Dog nearing retirement, a new police dog, training and equipment will be required to move forward. A Police Service Dog not only supports our investigational efforts through drug detection, tracking and searching, but will also continue to serve as an ambassador for our Service within our community by attending numerous events and presentations."
In addition, the Winkler Police Service is getting more than $11,000 for two alcohol-approved screening devices and surveillance equipment.
"We received funding through the Criminal Property Forfeiture program to assist with purchasing equipment that will be used to enhance our investigations involving illicit drug trafficking within our community," said Winkler Police Chief Ryan Hunt, also in a submitted statement to PembinaValleyOnline. "We are very appreciative of the continued support and the partnership we have with Manitoba Justice."
According to the Province, the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund has distributed more than $19 million back to the communities throughout the province since its inception in 2009.