WINNIPEG - Police Chief Keith McCaskill and the Winnipeg Police Association are weighing in -- on different sides -- in the debate over who should patrol downtown's streets.

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This article was published 11/3/2011 (3871 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WINNIPEG - Police Chief Keith McCaskill and the Winnipeg Police Association are weighing in -- on different sides -- in the debate over who should patrol downtown's streets.

This morning, Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande asked council's protection and community services committee for $100,000 to fund their Outreach Patrol program and help them identify a sustainable form of funding for the coming years.

Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill talks to the first graduating class of 29 police cadets at city hall last month. Cadets have been patrolling downtown since last year, freeing up officers by handling routine police duties such as guarding crime scenes or directing traffic.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill talks to the first graduating class of 29 police cadets at city hall last month. Cadets have been patrolling downtown since last year, freeing up officers by handling routine police duties such as guarding crime scenes or directing traffic.

Grande said the 10 patrols have special constable status to detain people, but only spend one-third of their time on enforcement, including taking drunk people to places such as the Main Street Project. Grande said the patrols are dedicated to the area, can respond in less than 10 minutes, and have built relationships with individuals in the area.

The Winnipeg Police Association, however, said the money would be better spent on police cadets. WPA president Mike Sutherland said cadets are better trained and have better equipment than the Downtown BIZ's Outreach Patrol.

Sutherland said any extra money in the city's budget would be better directed toward the cadet program. Cadets are paid less than the patrols and are not restricted within certain downtown boundaries, he said.

Police Chief Keith McCaskill said the Downtown BIZ outreach patrols allow cadets to spend more time assisting police officers.

McCaskill said police cadets were created to help officers with less urgent things, such as tending to traffic light outages. He said absorbing the outreach patrol program would eat up more of cadets' time time that could be spent tending to other matters that free-up police resources.

St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves said the city will likely have to examine a way to continue such an outreach program, including looking at strengthening partnerships with the police cadet program.