Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Rumour about cops 'ridiculous and false'
A nasty rumour about the Winkler Police Service that has persisted for weeks has prompted officials to issue a statement in a bid to stop the controversy.
The rumour that began in the southwestern Manitoba 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 stated 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.
"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 by the rumour, adding 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 with a personal dislike for the city's 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.
The Winkler Police Service has 17 officers, including its chief. 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."
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 wrongdoing.
"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 police force and in hopes it would stop the rumour.
Statement issued by Winkler city manager Dave Burgess late Monday afternoon:
"I find I must address the complete fabrications that have perpetuated for weeks about our police officers.
"While responding to rumours is not my normal course of action, I find it important to speak up for our officers and their families. 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 wrongdoing. 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.
"I have great confidence in the Winkler Police Service and appreciate the level of service they provide to the City of Winkler."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2012 A2
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