Winnipeg police officers are up in arms about high-tech hand scanners that will soon be used to determine whether they are working or not at the downtown headquarters.
Moe Sabourin, president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said members are questioning why city council approved 11 biometric scanners for $158,000 to replace the current swipe card system at entrance doors at the Winnipeg Police Service's headquarters.
"It is a bit of a slap in the face without actually saying it," Sabourin said Tuesday.
"You can imagine how insulted the members are... and it's not for building security. They are saying that on a day off, when you come to the gymnasium to work out, you don't have to scan in."
The scanners will take a 3D picture of the officer's hands and match them with a previously recorded file. It would allow the city to know who and when an employee entered or left the building.
Police chief Danny Smyth could not be reached for comment. But Smyth said in a CBC report it would allow supervisors to know which officers with specialized training are on site so they could be rushed to a call if they are needed.
"Right now, we're using the lists and calling people at home because our scheduling system is pretty old," Smyth told CBC.
But Sabourin said union members are suspicious of why the scanners are being installed at the same time their pension plans are under attack by the city and the city's budget process is recommending staff cuts.
"Why don't they just say everyone has to use the swipe card when they enter or leave?" he said.
"Is the mayor and city council trying to make life rough for us because we've been vocal about their budget? In these high budget times, why would they approve this?"
Rather than target police, Sabourin said city hall should be focusing on civic building inspectors, who were flagged earlier this year for repeated incidents of workplace misconduct. "Maybe they should start at the place this all started," he said.
The city fired eight employees, suspended seven others and took other disciplinary steps when an anonymous group of citizens documented employees in the planning, property and development department doing personal errands while at work, taking extended breaks and leaving work early.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.