A nasty rumour about the Winkler Police Service that has persisted for weeks has prompted local officials to issue a statement in a bid to stop the controversy.
The rumour that began in the southwestern community almost two months ago suggested a handful of officers had been suspended for failing drug tests.
"I first heard about it six weeks ago from a councillor, four officers were suspended for failing drug tests," city manager Dave Burgess said.
By Monday afternoon, a tip emailed to the Free Press newsroom stated that 16 of the community’s 18 officers had been suspended for failing drug tests.
"We don’t even have 18 officers," Burgess said. "It’s just not true.
The Winkler Police Service has a complement of 17 officers, including its chief.
"We just laughed it off at first but it’s a story that seems to have gained more steam and more imagination than ever before."
Winkler Police Service Insp. Brad Kehler said he was annoyed with the rumour, adding that no officers are under suspension.
"It’s just absolutely ridiculous and false," Kehler said. "There’s no one here under suspension or under investigation of any kind."
Burgess said he suspects the rumour was started by someone who had a personal dislike for the local police.
Burgess said the Winkler Police Service doesn’t conduct random or regular drug tests of its members, adding that’s a policy consistent with other police agencies.
Burgess said the city is proud of its police force.
"I couldn’t be more thrilled with the professionalism and service level from our police officers," Burgess said.
In an official statement issued late Monday afternoon, Burgess said:
"I find I must address the complete fabrications that have perpetuated for weeks about our police officers...
"I want to stress that not one member of the Winkler Police Service has been suspended, fired, nor is under investigation for any type of wrong doing.
"The origins and motives of these fabrications are suspected and not all that uncommon. It is, however, not healthy for public confidence to be affected due to efforts through social media."
Burgess said the statement was being issued in support of the local police and in hopes it would stop the rumour.