EDITORIALS

MORANTZ TONE DEAF IN EXCHANGE WITH DEPUTY CHIEF

Marty Morantz (martymorantz.ca)
Marty Morantz (martymorantz.ca)

Newly elected Winnipeg City Councillor Marty Morantz could learn a thing or two about respectful dialogue.

Last week Morantz called out respected Deputy Police Chief Art Stannard during a tense exchange regarding WPS staffing levels.

“I don’t want you to compromise service but it looks to me like there’s a lot of officers hanging around right now,” Morantz suggested.

Stannard’s attempt to defer the issue to the Winnipeg Police Board clearly annoyed Morantz.

“Why are you here, why are you sitting here?” Morantz fired back in a fractious retort.

In the postscript, Morantz refused to apologize for his perceived disrespect.

“I’m the chair of finance for the City of Winnipeg.  They were there to talk about the financial position of the Winnipeg Police Service.  So, no, I don’t think any of my questions were out-of-order,” he said to Free Press reporter Aldo Santin.

It seems Mr. Morantz is somewhat tone-deaf.

I heard the exchange and it seemed plenty disrespectful to me.

I’m confident the men and women of the WPS are equally unimpressed by the suggestion they’re sitting around their police stations with their thumbs up their asses.

Before he was elected to represent the Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge ward on City Council, Marty Morantz was a private sector lawyer specializing in real-estate, wills and estates.

As far as I know he doesn’t have a degree in Police Sciences or any experience running a major Police Organization.

You would think his lack of experience might suggest a more temperate approach in his dialogue with senior Police Executives.

It’s all in the delivery.

Lack of Corporate Knowledge

Police Board Chair Councillor Scott Gillingham supported Morantz indicating his questions were valid.

But were they?

The WPS have been subjected to intense scrutiny and extensive studies in recent years.

In August 2013, The Matrix Consulting Group conducted an in-depth study of WPS operations and determined the Organization was being operated in an efficient manner.

The review came with a price tag of $174,000.

That same year the Canadian Police Association sponsored an in-depth review of WPS operations by Simon Fraser University which confirmed the Matrix findings.

The cost of the review was estimated at $200,000.

In 2010, the WPS Homicide Unit was subjected to one of the most intensive operational reviews ever conducted on its operations.  The review found the Unit was overworked and understaffed yet they secured a nation leading 90% solvency rate at approximately 50% of the cost of its comparators.

Staffing level analysis was conducted during these reviews and no recommendations were made to decrease staff.

A Crime Challenged City

The suggestion the WPS is over staffed seems to conflict with the reality of a crime challenged City.

Recent Statistics Canada reports indicate the City of Winnipeg leads the Country in a number of unenviable crime categories;

  • Violent Crime
  • Homicide
  • Robbery
  • Youth Crime

The City of Winnipeg is considered the Aboriginal street gang capital of Canada with over 1,500 active gang members fighting for control of our streets.

Manitoba remains the Provincial murder capital of Canada by a significant margin and has held the title for seven (7) consecutive years.

Calls for Service

The 2013 WPS Annual report indicated calls for Police Service are continuing to trend upwards;

CALLS FOR SERVICE (2013 WPS ANNUAL REPORT)
CALLS FOR SERVICE (2013 WPS ANNUAL REPORT)

The increasing calls for service place a heavy burden on front line police officers.

The Final Analysis

“Why are you here, why are you sitting here?”

The interests of the citizens of Winnipeg will not be advanced when City Councillors instigate demeaning confrontational exchanges with senior Police Executives.

Executives of the Police Service have long been aware of the need to operate the Organization in a cost-effective, efficient manner.  They’re also aware of their obligation to be accountable to City Hall and the citizens of our City.

Police Executives accept and welcome that responsibility.

The next time Mr. Morantz sits across the table from Deputy Chief Art Stannard he should try to remember which one of them has served the citizens of Winnipeg for over thirty (30) years.

If he can’t figure that out then maybe our newly elected Mayor could spell it out for him.

It’s called r e s p e c t.

Marty Morantz should get some.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

In the fall of 2014 The Fraser Institute published a study called, “Police and Crime Rates in Canada – A Comparison of Resources and Outcomes.”

The report was authored by Livio Di Matteo, a Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Di Matteo concluded the Winnipeg Police Service was one of the most over-staffed and inefficient Police Organizations in the Country.

The results of the study were largely rejected because the findings were predicated solely on crime rate data.  It also excluded important factors unique to the City of Winnipeg.

Police Chief Devon Clunis responds to the Fraser Institute report….

4 Comments

  1. John;

    You ask valid and important questions.

    Are there savings to be made?

    I guarantee there are initiatives that could be undertaken that would help reduce costs to some extent. The Police Service is aware of the need to constantly review operations to ensure the Organization is running efficiently.

    Court overtime is an area that needs to be reviewed and analyzed for cost efficiencies. The problem is the system is driven by Crown and Defense Attorneys who operate under their own sets of rules. The Police Service has a limited ability to affect change in this area.

    I think civilianization of certain positions is an important issue that must be thoroughly examined in order to ensure efficiency and reduce costs.

    There is little that can be done to control the costs associated to wages and pensions.

    WPS wages have increased as a result of contract and arbitrated settlements that are in direct correlation and in line with their western comparators.

    What most people don’t understand is that policing costs are often impacted by changes in the administration of justice and social evolution.

    Examples;

    The requirement to video tape suspect interviews added significant costs and increased resources to record, store, maintain and disclose the recordings.

    Court mandated disclosure of police evidence (notes, video recordings, photographs, reports) translated to significant resource requirements.

    Advancements in technology significantly increased policing costs and created a need to establish Technical Support Units to conduct forensic examinations of blackberries, iPhones, computers and other electronic devices.

    The increased prevalence of smart phones and video also contributed to increased costs. All transit buses and most taxi cabs are equipped with video recording capability.

    These advancements dictated the need for the police to create and staff a Forensic Imaging Unit as many serious crimes are now captured on video recordings.

    Now there is talk of compelling officers to wear lapel cameras.

    This undertaking will come with significant costs associated to hardware, software and manpower to process, store, maintain and disclose the video evidence.

    Whether the costs of policing are connected to property taxes or some other area is a matter for our Politicians to determine.

    Brian Bowman is a smart man and I will be interested to see how he addresses this issue.

    The question regarding sustainability of Police & Fire wages and pensions is an important question and I appreciate your interest.

    Thank you for commenting.

  2. Wayne..

    Interesting points as always.

    Thank you for commenting.

  3. With your experience in policing and with costs risings, where should the discussion on police be? Are there savings to be made? Do you expect costs to continue to rise to, to stay the same or to fall? Should financing of police come from property tax?

  4. Councillor Morantz has said there are about 200 police officers who are eligible for retirement, basing that only on the fact they have 20 or 25 years service. He knows nothing of their individual situations, young family, pension partner, debt load or anything like that. He doesn’t appreciate that some of these members still look forward to coming to work because they enjoy what they do. Officers can’t, nor should they be forced to retire just because they are eligible and the city wants to try to save money by having them retire.

    Here’s a suggestion, let them cash out their sick leave bank and put it into RRSPs. No, wait, the city already got rid of that because they say it was too expensive.

    There are now officers who, when they do retire, will see their pensions cut then they reach 65 years and not receive Old Age Security until 67 years, which means 2 years of getting about 1/2 their pension. Maybe the city should look at bridging this shortfall as a means of inducement.

    The last time the city told the Police Service to reduce unnecessary overtime, I personally know of a fatal collision on Fermor Avenue at the CN overpass that was not investigated until a day later just to save a buck. Traffic Division, in their attempt to help save money, decided to get rid of the water cooler, even though the water in the building was unfit for consumption. Its hard to reduce spending when 85% of your budget is wages.

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