Institutional safety officers on Manitoba security horizon

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Security guards armed with batons and aerosol spray and empowered to make arrests could be patrolling health-care facilities and universities in Manitoba in the near future.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2021 (288 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Security guards armed with batons and aerosol spray and empowered to make arrests could be patrolling health-care facilities and universities in Manitoba in the near future.

Earlier this week, amendments to the Police Services Act came into force, allowing post-secondary institutions and health-care facilities to employ a new type of security personnel: institutional safety officers.

Under the act, institutional safety officers are licensed security guards who have taken enhanced training and will be permitted to carry handcuffs, defensive batons, aerosol weapons and wear distinctive uniforms. Only security guards at health-care facilities and post-secondary institutions can be trained as institutional safety officers, according to the province.

They can enforce youth consumption and open liquor provisions under the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act, as well as the indoor tobacco and outdoor cannabis smoking prohibitions in the Smoking and Vapour Products Control Act. The officers are also authorized to arrest people who are intoxicated or found to be trespassing.

Shared Health, which operates the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg and co-ordinates health services across Manitoba, said it is developing a set of criteria to determine which facilities require security and the type of security to be deployed.

A Free Press request for an interview was not accommodated.

“This planning work is considering the necessary training and skills required by institutional safety officers based on the specific role and duties they must fulfill within Manitoba health-care facilities, in addition to the training and skills required by employed or contracted security staff,” a Shared Health spokesperson said in a statement.

“This work will lead to the creation of a common, consistent health-care security training plan.”

Shared Health said all health-care facilities can tailor its security plan, including the use of institutional safety officers, to the needs of a facility based on patient volume, the size of the campus, and whether treatment is being provided to people who are intoxicated or seeking mental health services.

Planning and development of criteria is expected to continue over the coming months, Shared Health said.

Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba, the province’s largest university, is still exploring whether it will add the enhanced security personnel to all of its campus locations.

“(U of M) security services personnel meet the guideline requirements of the (institutional safety officer) program and this provincial delegation would provide authority to assist our community in enhancing safety for staff, students, and visitors,” university spokesman Chris Rutkowski said in a statement.

University of Winnipeg executive director of communications Kevin Rosen said the downtown school would not be employing institutional safety officers “at this time.” The university would not elaborate on its decision Friday.

According to the province, the institutional safety officers will be trained in public safety and crime prevention, enforcement of provincial laws, arrests, searches and seizures, use of force, mental health awareness, and more.

Training is provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Winnipeg Police Service, Brandon Police Service, Manitoba Justice, and Assiniboine Community College.

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
Reporter

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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