Local mandate protest cost $100,000 in police overtime
Pandemic demonstrations price tag on police board agenda
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/03/2022 (450 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Numerous COVID-19-related demonstrations taxed the Winnipeg Police Service budget in 2021, with the recent weeks-long anti-mandate protest costing even more.
The Winnipeg Police Board will meet Friday to discuss — among overviews of typical law enforcement operations and budget updates — the police response to the February protest near the legislative grounds that snarled downtown traffic and angered area residents.
City police monitored 46 pandemic- or public health measure-related protests or rallies in 2021, costing an estimated $160,000, which was covered by the existing operating budget, according to the Winnipeg police 2021 fourth-quarter fiscal financial report.
“The service’s response to these events range from monitoring to determine risks to public safety, to a full deployment of officers,” reads the report.
There were 185 gatherings monitored by the police special events team last year, ranging from awareness walks and marches to bike and car rallies to protests, according to a report to the board from police Chief Danny Smyth.
The so-called convoy protest, which was dismantled after three weeks following a police ultimatum to pack up or face charges and possible vehicle seizures, cost more than $100,000 in police overtime alone.
Some elected officials, too, were irked by the police response to the anti-mandate protest: city council signed a unanimous letter looking at the possibility of a legal injunction, the mayor called for the police service to enforce against the protest, and elected representatives from all three levels of government asked for action.
Smyth has repeatedly defended the service’s approach, saying it followed the national framework for police preparedness on demonstrations.
“If we can bring something (to) a resolution peacefully without resorting to use of force or mass arrests, that’s going to be our first priority,” Smyth told the Free Press in an interview Wednesday.
Supt. Dave Dalal, who commands the team that oversees protests and rallies, and Smyth will both attend city hall for the police board meeting.
On Wednesday, the WPS announced it ended 2021 with a $3-million budget shortfall after it received council permission to overspend its budget by up to $7.3 million in November.
The service managed to end the year with a smaller loss, however, after a surge in revenues helped offset extra costs. Police managed to raise $9.71 million through police services, instead of the $4.35 million expected for 2021, which a report credits primarily to special-duty work at COVID-19 vaccination sites.
The overrun was largely blamed on surging pension costs after an actuarial assessment found the police pension plan fell $5.8-million short.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.
Updated on Thursday, March 3, 2022 3:42 PM CST: Adds info about budget, adds photo, tweaks headline