City police checking in on kids’ hockey this winter
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2014 (3149 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the name of prevention, fans of minor hockey in Winnipeg can expect to see a police presence in local rinks this winter.
Hockey Winnipeg, which oversees the minor hockey program in the city, confirmed this morning that members of the Winnipeg Police Service community relations department will be dropping by city hockey rinks periodically to help promote good behavior during the minor hockey experience.
Hockey Winnipeg president Don MacIntosh said the Checking In program, initiated by the WPS community relations department over the summer, will help curb the recent wave of inappropriate behavior — both on the ice and off — that brought unwanted headlines to the organization last season.
“We thought it was a fantastic idea,” MacIntosh said. “It gives us another opportunity to educate parents, coaches and players about the requirements for respect in the game.”
The program, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, is designed to accomplish two things. One, police members will be on hand at minor hockey games passing out literature regarding fair play and respect in sport to parents, coaches and players. That’s the education component. The second goal of the visits is to serve as a visual reminder to parents and coaches that any sort of behavior that’s deemed outside Hockey Winnipeg’s Rick Behavioral Policy will not be tolerated.
Possible scenarios where police may intervene include abuse towards officials, abuse towards other parents and abuse towards opposition players/coaches.
MacIntosh said there could even be an instance where WPS members will be alerted to a game that could carry the potential for fireworks, though he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
“It’s like seat belt legislation,” MacIntosh said. “You can educate people and work together through various policies, but without enforcement you’re really not driving the point home. Our main goal is to simply educate people. We hope that it doesn’t come to enforcement.”
Minor hockey’s image in the province absorbed a few big body checks last season, with a handful of incidents at rinks requiring visits from the authorities.
A tournament in Fargo involving Winnipeg parents led to the couple receiving a three-year ban for their off-ice actions at a game, while police and RCMP were called to intervene in games at Southdale Community Centre and in Stonewall.
The police presence is just another step in addressing the increase of abuse at minor hockey games. Last February, Hockey Winnipeg made the decision to introduce the Respect in Sport program. Parents, who wish to have their child participate in hockey this season, must complete the questionnaire before they are allowed to register.
MacIntosh said the response has been overwhelming, with approximately 7,500 parents going through the process.
“It’s been beyond our expectations,” he said. “I expected some negativity and push-back from parents, but the response has been exceptional. People are taking ownership of the some of the issues we have in minor hockey.”