It was a tough day at the office today for Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth.
Smyth called a hasty presser this afternoon to share disturbing news regarding recent arrests of two off duty WPS officers.
Smyth provided the following information;
- On Monday, November 20, 2017, an off duty WPS officer was arrested by members of the RCMP in the Headingley area just outside of the City. The officer will face charges that include having care and control of a motor vehicle while his ability to do so was impaired.
- On Sunday, November 26, 2017, an off duty WPS officer was arrested by members of the WPS in the West Kildonan area in Winnipeg. The officer will also face charges that include having care and control of a motor vehicle while his ability to do so was impaired.
Smyth indicated both officers have been relieved of their duties and placed on administrative leave. Their identities were not released as they have yet to be formally charged.
The officers are scheduled to appear in court in January of 2018.
The news was clearly difficult for Smyth to share given recent tragic events.
“As you know, Constable Justin Holz was charged with a number of offences including Impaired Driving Causing Death in a collision that took the life of Mr. Cody Severight in the North End last month. Our organization is still reeling from the incident. My thoughts still go out to the Severight family who are dealing with the loss of their son, brother, and loved one,” Smyth said.
“These officers will be held accountable for their conduct in both criminal proceedings and regulatory proceedings.”
Smyth seemed perturbed regarding suggestions the Police Service has been less than transparent regarding the recent arrests.
In a testy exchange streamed live on Facebook, Smyth struggled to maintain his civility when challenged by a member of the press who suggested he has been less than forthcoming with information regarding the arrests.
Smyth also rejected the notion there is a culture of binge drinking in the Winnipeg Police Service.
“I’m going to push back a little bit on that idea,” he remarked.
“There are about 1,400 cops in Winnipeg and the vast majority do not engage in this kind of behaviour,” he stressed.
Those who do, Smyth emphasized, represent less than 1% of police members.
Smyth went on to explain the mechanics of the Employee Assistance Program, voluntary and mandatory referral processes for police officers who may require support to avoid having their conduct become the subject of criminal or internal investigations.
The Chief’s day didn’t get any easier.
Mere moments after he walked away from the podium the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) issued a press release informing the public of a recent unrelated arrest of yet another WPS member.
The release indicates the IIU charged a sixteen-year member of the WPS with assault stemming from an on duty incident involving a twelve-year-old boy.
The incident is alleged to have occurred on August 7, 2017.
The release reports the youth was not injured, however, Civilian Director Zane Tessler concluded reasonable and probable grounds existed to suggest a criminal offence occurred.
The officer was issued an appearance notice on November 28, 2018 and will appear in Provincial Court on January 17, 2018.
The recent arrests are not only troubling for Chief Smyth, they’re equally troubling for both serving and retired members of the Police Service.
In no less than fifty days, four (4) Winnipeg Police Officers have found themselves facing serious criminal charges stemming from unrelated incidents.
The arrests may be unprecedented.
As the festive season rapidly approaches, the time has come for all of us to start thinking about our plans for drinks after work, nights out, parties, family events and other social gatherings.
If you’re going to drink – have a plan.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
It’s really that simple.