Brandon Progressive Conservative candidates pledged on Saturday the provincial government would fund five new Brandon Police Service officers if they are elected on Oct. 4.

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This article was published 25/9/2011 (3649 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

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Brandon West Progressive Conservative candidate Reg Helwer, at podium, and Brandon East candidate Mike Waddell, on Saturday morning outside the East End Community Centre, pledge five new police officers for the city if their party forms a government after the Oct. 4 election.

JAMES O'CONNOR/BRANDON SUN

Brandon West Progressive Conservative candidate Reg Helwer, at podium, and Brandon East candidate Mike Waddell, on Saturday morning outside the East End Community Centre, pledge five new police officers for the city if their party forms a government after the Oct. 4 election.

Brandon Progressive Conservative candidates pledged on Saturday the provincial government would fund five new Brandon Police Service officers if they are elected on Oct. 4.

"We are here because after 12 years of Greg Selinger and the NDP, violent crime is out of control," said Brandon West candidate Reg Helwer from the sidewalk next to the East End Community Centre. "Violent crime is a problem across Manitoba and Brandon is no exception."

The pledge will cost $450,000 including benefits, which Brandon East candidate Mike Waddell said was money well spent.

"Premier Selinger has admitted that violent crime problems and gangs have gotten worse on his watch," Waddell said. "Our leader has the strength to realize there is a problem and will take real action to tackle it."

Waddell noted the site of the announcement was an indication both Helwer and Waddell supported both crime prevention programs as well as law enforcement strategies.

"More feet on the streets and more officers on patrol serves as a deterrent," Helwer said. "When we started our business on Douglas Street, we had a lot of break-ins and once the (Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council) started their police force, just having those cruisers on the streets, everything stopped."

Brandon Police Association president Sgt. Kevin Loewen welcomed the pledge as it would give the local police force the staff the enhanced ability to work on crime prevention.

"There are areas of crime, such as crime in schools, or perhaps in the area of drug enforcement where there is a constant preventative effort in ensuring the community is as safe as it can be," Loewen said, cautioning he can’t insinuate where those five officers would be tasked.

"Right now, we are at a reasonable staffing level that allows us to serve the public as best we can, but five more officers would allow us to concentrate on preventative programs."

Brandon East New Democratic Party candidate Drew Caldwell said he was fine with the Tory announcement.

"We have 14 new police officers on the streets in Brandon now and we’ve committed to 400 new officers across the province."

"I’m happy to see my opponents joining with me to support police and protective services in the province," Caldwell said. "I guess I’ll raise them a couple hundred officers."

Brandon West New Democratic Party candidate Jim Murray dismissed the Helwer/Waddell announcement.

"That’s almost the amount (Progressive Conservative Leader) Hugh McFadyen wanted to cut out of the last budget, only that he wanted to cut $500 million," Murray said.

"In the history of this government, we added 261 new police officers in Manitoba, 14 of them right in Brandon with 58 prosecutors, 43 more to come and every one of those was voted against by Hugh McFadyen’s Conservatives. So I think you could put more stock into this if they had demonstrated a commitment to this all along, which they haven’t."

Brandon West Liberal candidate George Buri said he supported "being tough on criminals and smart on crime."

"One of the things about being smart on crime is having more police," Buri said. "It depends on how they are deployed. If they are deployed to help fight drugs, especially in and around schools and young people, I think that’s a good idea."

Brandon East Liberal candidate Shaun Cameron said the Progressive Conservative pledge, "was one at the end of the trail."

"You need to be looking at the causes of crime as well, whether they are addictions, poverty or whether they be social problems people are dealing with so that we are combating those issues further up the line," Cameron said.

Vanda Fleury, the Green Party’s candidate in Brandon East, said the Tory strategy, "focuses on problems after the fact."

"We need to focus on prevention, and the Green Party of Manitoba would rather put that money towards a basic income for all strategy," Fleury said. "In due course, we would see less money spent on health care, a regaining of the family home and a reduction on crime."

Brandon West Communist Party of Manitoba candidate Lisa Gallagher could not be reached for comment.

» kborkowsky@brandonsun.com