Scaring vandals: Winnipeg investigating new cemetery security measures
The city is seeking a new security firm to patrol three cemeteries.
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As police continue investigating vandalism that destroyed dozens of memorials at Brookside Cemetery, the city is set to hire a new firm to guard gravesites.
“The City of Winnipeg takes safety and security at city cemeteries very seriously; City cemeteries have always had security patrols in place, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” city spokesperson Kailey Barron said in an e-mail.
As the current security contract expires at the end of September, Barron said a new request for proposals (RFP) closing next week will be awarded by that time to ensure the grounds are still under patrol.
The RFP calls for uniformed officers to be available 24/7 to respond to alarms at Brookside and St. Vital within 20 minutes, and Transcona Cemetery within 30 minutes, in addition to regular patrols.
Winnipeg police Const. Jay Murray, a public information officer, couldn’t comment on any developments in the ongoing investigation into the May 18 vandalism at Brookside, but said “there is some merit” to the private security patrols continuing.
“With that incident, the mischief in May, those individuals were actually scared off by a patrolling security member,” Murray said. “They were damaging headstones, and this is shortly after the cemetery closed, and at one point I believe they crossed paths with a security officer, who caused them to flee the scene.”
It was a rare incident; Murray said the only other crimes reported in 2017 at any of the three cemeteries for which security patrols are being tendered were two reports of theft from vehicles, on July 12 and July 29.
But Barron said the city isn’t stopping at merely ensuring the city has “continued security services in place.”
“We are currently investigating all possibilities that would improve the security of the city cemeteries, including reviewing how other cemeteries maintain security and the hours their grounds remain open,” she said. “We are also seeking advice on improved physical barriers to prevent access to the grounds, when closed.”