A Winnipeg police service station in St. Vital has closed its doors without warning.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) told The Lance the station (1086A St. Mary’s Rd.) was closed by the Winnipeg Police Service on Sun., Dec. 29, although he was only notified about the closure three weeks later on Sun., Jan. 19 when a constituent called to complain about it.
"It came as surprise when I heard it was closed and the city councillors weren’t notified, but this option has certainly been discussed all along," Mayes said, noting that while he would have preferred the centre to have remained open, the city and the WPS "remain committed to public safety and community policing in our wards."
Mayes said the decision to close the station was not made at city hall, as the WPS "reports to the provincially-created police board, not council. They made this operational decision and they are the experts."
He added the fact it took three weeks before anyone notified his office about it indicated the station was "not being heavily used" before the recent closure.
"This indicates a pattern and the station was closed due to very limited use by the public. Based on our information, we’re told it was being used by two or three people a day," Mayes said.
Despite the closure, Mayes does not believe the move will compromise safety in the area.
"There were no cars there and no dispatchers in there, so I don’t think public safety will be compromised," he said, noting the closures were first proposed by the WPS in 2010, were endorsed by two external studies in 2013 and are not connected to the recent issues surrounding the audit of the new police headquarters, as they predate that discussion.
Mayes said he was pleased with the commitment of police Chief Devon Clunis to meeting with community members in the St. Vital ward to review WPS’ commitment to community-based policing.
"The chief of police has apologized to us for lack of notification," Mayes said in joint news release issued with Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) on Tues., Jan. 21 prior to speaking to The Lance. The police service station (1400 Henderson Hwy.) in Browaty’s ward was also closed on Dec. 29.
"However, the chief has also indicated that in his professional view the closure and reallocation of resources within the East District is the best strategy for public safety in our areas. The chief stated that 18 new positions have been added into the East District, including a new patrol car, as part of this reallocation," the statement said.
Will the closure of the station on St. Mary’s Road affect you? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org.