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Police chief defends gating practice

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Winnipeg’s top cop says gating, the practice of rearresting offenders as soon as they are released from jail, is a practical response to a welter of red tape they’d rather avoid in making arrests.

"Our officers have an immense workload... and in the instances recently reported police were notified of the location of the subjects and the warrants by a third party and we responded," Chief Devon Clunis said in a two-page statement Monday.

Clunis was responding to a Free Press column last weekend by reporter James Turner, who revealed the practice of gating.

Gating is described as a police tactic where offenders in jail are suddenly picked up on months (and sometimes years) old outstanding arrest warrants soon after they leave the confines of custody.

Clunis is the second senior police official to defend the practice. Another statement made the same point.

Winnipeg Police Association president Mike Sutherland said there’s a finite number of officers to deal with consistently increasing demands on their time and efforts, and the court system isn’t necessarily in tune with the weight of this reality.

In his statement, Clunis said there is less red tape for police officers if they wait until the suspect is on the street. Putting through an arrest warrant on someone already behind bars takes a lot of paperwork, he said.

"The process for arresting an in-custody prison is time consuming and in some instances, requires a warrant as well as a removal order... current calls for service wait while we process the prisoner," Clunis said in his statement.

Alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

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