EDITORIALS, LOCAL NEWS

POLICE BOARD FIRES IED AT WPS OFFICERS

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CHIEF CLUNIS, COUNCILLORS WYATT & FIELDING (FIELDING WEB PAGE)

The newly formed Winnipeg Police Board didn’t take long to show their true colours yesterday when they proposed the idea of accelerating a plan to place lapel cameras on approximately eight hundred (800) Winnipeg Police Officers.

The City of Winnipeg’s long-term budget forecast called for the City to spend one (1) million dollars on the “officer mobile video system” in 2016.  The expenditure was originally contained in the 2010 capital budget and has been approved by City Council every year since.  Police Board Chairman Councillor Scott Fielding would like to see the program accelerated to 2014 as a pilot project.

Police Chief Devon Clunis suggested the real costs could come closer to the three (3) million dollar mark when administrative costs are added into the equation.

It was Fielding who tabled the plan to accelerate the project.  In doing so, he suggested the cameras could be a benefit to Police Officers and the Public.  Fielding cited stats from a California City that showed the cameras contributed to an 88% drop in citizen complaints and reduced Officer use of force by 50%.

Apparently, Councillor Fielding thinks Winnipeg Police Officers are idiots who are blind to the motivation behind the Police Boards not so transparent agenda.

It would seem the newly formed Police Boards number one priority is to demand increased accountability from Winnipeg Police Officers.  An organization of men and woman already subject to multiple layers of scrutiny by virtue of accountability demanded by the Criminal Courts, Civil Courts, Manitoba Justice, Internal Investigations – Professional Standards Unit, WPS Rules and Regulations and the Law Enforcement Review Agency.  Not to mention the pending implementation of the Provincial Special Investigations Unit.

I find it disturbing that in a City that leads nation-wide violent crime, murder, arson and other crime statistics, the newly formed Police Boards number one priority is to place more scrutiny on Winnipeg Police Officers by having them wear lapel cameras to record their every move.

No priority placed on strategies to reduce violent crime, gang violence, strong-arm robberies in the Downtown area, the revolving doors of justice, overtime reduction, poverty, social dysfunction, pan handling, drug and alcohol addiction issues that impact crime or a plethora of other serious issues that face the men and women who work for the WPS.

Should we be surprised?

When the Board was formed I expressed my concerns in an article called “Winnipeg Police Board – The Blind Leading the Blind.”  The article featured racist and anti Law Enforcement quotations spewed by Police Board member Leslie Spillet in a Winnipeg Free Press article written by Randy Turner.

Should we be surprised?

All this coming after Councillor Russ Wyatt called out Chief Clunis accusing the Police Executive of being responsible for leaking information from the controversial Matrix draft report.  (Is it me or are relations between City Hall and the Police Service testing all time lows?)

Should we be surprised?

The need for the cameras was questioned by Police Chief Devon Clunis and WPA President Mike Sutherland who see the priority for the plan as one that belongs far down the totem pole.  “I really don’t think we need additional monitoring of our Police Officers,” Clunis said, clearly seeing the Boards initiative for what it is, an undertaking to increase the scrutiny on one of the most scrutinized professions on planet Earth.

That increased scrutiny will come with a very large price tag, a factor that doesn’t seem to bother Councillor Fielding or the Police Board.

The Police Boards initiative will need significant financial and human resources to administer the proposal.  Aside from the cost of the cameras, software and integration, a new unit would be required within the Police Service to deal with the volumes of daily recordings.  The recordings must be reviewed, downloaded, transcribed, disclosed for criminal or civil proceedings and secured and stored as evidence.

If one (1) million dollars doesn’t cover the cost, just amend the budget says Fielding.

So the story goes, the burdens placed on Law Enforcement continue to increase in scope and size, yet members of City Council want us to believe they’re perplexed and handcuffed by the rising costs associated with the Police Budget.

Maybe it’s time for some intelligent priority setting.

Nevertheless, the message sent from the New Police Board was loud and clear.  I’m confident every cop working in the City of Winnipeg got it.

RELATED LINK:

THE POLICE INSIDER – LERA – From Behind the Badge

5 Comments

  1. That would be something.

    Thanks very much for commenting.

  2. So it’s just as simple as amending the budget. Hmm, last week wasn’t council talking about cutting the police budget? What’s wrong with this picture.

    I think that most citizens see the new “Police Commision” as a bit of a joke considering who is on the board, so maybe this is their big play at being taken seriously.

    Seems like the millions of dollars a year this will cost is no real concern. I am wondering if this is a suggestion or does this commission have the power to push this through. And why stop at police officers? Let’s put cameras on every government employee who interacts with the public, doctors, nurses, CFS workers, firefighters, paramedics etc….and yes even politicians! Wouldn’t that be something!

  3. Great comments…

    Thanks for adding to the conversation….

  4. I am glad to see that apparently money is not an issue when it comes to City Council wanting to add another layer of (supposed) oversight and bureaucracy to the Police Service.

    Was it not just last week that Russ Wyatt was complaining of an unsustainable budget, what with salaries and pensions, not to mention rumours about possible layoffs?

    Mr. Fielding apparently is using his position on the Police Board to pad his resume for his upcoming Mayoral bid. It’s absolutely fantastic that the WPS has such a strong voice for them on Council. If Mr. Fielding wanted to, he should familiarize himself not only with such dubious studies as one out of California, (which is essentially moot compared to Winnipeg), and have a peek at Calgary’s police budget. Just to let you know, Mr. Fielding, Calgary’s police budget is DOUBLE that of Winnipeg and they do not have the same crime rates whatsoever. But I won’t let the facts get in the way of his and Russ Wyatt’s political aspirations.

    Perhaps now that a magical one million dollars has turned up for cameras, the Service can be outfitted with better equipment, or here’s a thought….a contract with the WPA. (Of course, the City always bargains in good faith. I am sorry for my sarcasm)

    Remember folks, these are the clowns that were voted in, and these are the same who will be running in the next election.

    The last time I checked, Devon Clunis runs the WPS, not wannabe mayors like Scott Fielding and Russ Wyatt.

    Let’s hope such ridiculous posturing and requests are put to rest and put to rest quickly.

  5. Loud and clear!

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