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Winnipeg police have spent months quietly conducting an internal investigation into their K-9 unit -- a move that could result in criminal charges being laid, the Free Press has learned.

It's at least the fifth ongoing probe by the professional standards unit involving members of the police service.

'In three years, six people have resigned from the unit' ‐ justice source

Multiple sources say the focus of this case is a veteran officer who billed close to $100,000 in overtime over a three-year period. It involves specialized security work, including regular duty at the MTS Centre.

"He was searching and clearing bags of Winnipeg Jets and visiting teams," one source said this week. "Also, the prime minister's plane and when Prince Charles visited."

Police operate sweeps of high-traffic events such as hockey games and visits by dignitaries to ensure public safety.

The work itself, which was approved by the police service, isn't the issue. It's alleged the work wasn't done properly and police were misled about the circumstances surrounding it. It's alleged the sweeps were done without a validated bomb-sniffing dog, sources said.

Although the dog used during the sweeps may have been previously validated, canine officers are required to renew their dog's validation on an annual basis to ensure training standards are being met. Sources say this wasn't done, even though the police service was led to believe it had been completed and approved the overtime on that condition.

Sources said the senior canine officer in question, along with a second veteran member of the unit, have been accused of harassment by several officers who have left the unit. Those claims are part of the probe.

"In three years, six people have resigned from the unit," said a source.

The Free Press outlined the allegations to the WPS in a detailed email request for information this week. The public information office replied with the following statement:

"The Winnipeg Police Service is investigating allegations of misconduct within the canine unit. The professional standards unit commenced an investigation earlier this year. The investigation is expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

"When the investigation is completed, it will be forwarded to Crown prosecutors to consider whether criminal charges are warranted. No canine-unit members have been removed from the workplace as a result of this investigation."

The WPS also claimed the facts outlined by the Free Press "are not entirely accurate" but declined a request to provide specific examples on the grounds "this is an ongoing investigation."

www.mikeoncrime.com

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
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Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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