Unannounced police drill leads to St. B school lockdown
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Winnipeg police are apologizing for a “communication breakdown,” after an armed training exercise near a St. Boniface elementary school caused alarm and resulted in a facility lockdown.
In a message to parents of École Taché students, principal Mireille Kazadi and vice-principal Nicole Sedo said the Wednesday afternoon incident — in which a group of armed and uniformed police were on the street near the school — created panic among staff and students.
The Langevin Street school went into lockdown for about 10 minutes, as the principal called police for an explanation.
Alain Laberge, superintendent of Division scolaire franco-manitobaine, said the incident caused some fright.
“I received a phone call from the principal in the afternoon letting me know there were police all around the school, doing some drills, and they were armed, they had guns… and we had to go into a lockdown because we were not sure if they were after someone,” Laberge said Friday.
“Students saw the police, saw the squad, and… we had to reassure the parents, send home a letter.”
Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Claude Chancy said it’s the department’s practice to notify schools of any exercises planned in their vicinity.
“That is 100 per cent something that was missed on our part,” said Chancy. “We’re owning up to that error.”
He said “there was an effort” to contact the school beforehand, “but no connection (was) made, and it wasn’t followed up.”
“Since then, we certainly have spoken to the school directly, and we certainly apologize for our error and the communication breakdown, and look to rectify that.”
Chancy wouldn’t reveal details of what the exercise entailed, but said it involved nine officers total, including two in high-visibility vests leading the training about two blocks from the school.
Laberge said the school division would have appreciated a phone call the day before the drill to warn parents ahead of time: “I understand that they’re quite busy and everything, but I think communication is quite important.”
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.