For this family, ‘serve and protect’ sounds right


Advertise with us

THERE seems to be a rise in recent years of people slagging Winnipeg police as racist and unnecessarily brutal. Some protests have even demanded the police service be defunded.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.


Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/06/2022 (272 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THERE seems to be a rise in recent years of people slagging Winnipeg police as racist and unnecessarily brutal. Some protests have even demanded the police service be defunded.

Bob and Cathy Stewart are aware from news reports of growing hostility toward police but, when they were awoken this week by a violent man who was high on meth and smashing the windows of their home, they had a first-hand opportunity to judge police action for themselves.

By the time police arrested the home invader — they found him naked, lying in a puddle of standing water in nearby bush — the Stewarts had high praise for the sensitivity police showed in quelling the crisis.

“There’s not enough good adjectives to describe their high level of professionalism,” Bob said in a conversation.

The Stewarts were sleeping on Tuesday night in their home on Victor Wyatt Place, a cul-de-sac in St. Vital. The neighbourhood had always seemed safe for Bob, who retired as a district manager at the Royal Bank, and Cathy, who retired after owning two World of Water franchises.

They were jarred awake at about 2:30 a.m. by explosive-like cracks that sounded like gunfire hitting the back of their split-level home. Cathy peered out of the blinds covering their bedroom window and saw the noises were coming from a man who was hurtling objects at their house, smashing four of their windows, one of them a picture window. He was also trying to kick in their back door.

The attacker was speaking in a loud voice so the Stewarts assumed he was talking with cohorts, but police later determined he acted alone and was speaking aloud in a meth-induced break from reality.

As the man tried to break in, Bob grabbed a phone, dialed 911 and handed the phone to Cathy.

“I was shaking, terrified, my mouth was dry,” said Cathy. “The 911 operator was wonderfully calm. She asked me to describe what I saw out the window, what was happening.

“She said she would send police immediately and she agreed that we should leave the house through a different door, which we did.”

The Stewarts are on friendly terms with their neighbours and considered asking for shelter in a nearby home, but decided against spreading anxiety by waking other people in the middle of the night. Instead, they walked about half-a-block away and waited outdoors for police.

“The 911 operator stayed on the line and promised she wasn’t going to abandon us,” said Cathy. “She kept asking us how we were doing, kept trying to calm us down.”

Several squad cars of police arrived within 10 minutes, quietly, without sirens or flashing lights. The Stewarts waited outside while officers entered the home and the intruder fled into a wooded area behind Stewarts’ home.

He was unclothed when police found him sprawled in shallow water. As police led the offender to a squad car, Bob was impressed by the humane way officers arrested the man who was obviously addled by drugs.

“They talked to him like he was human. They asked him how much meth he had taken. They handled him with respect, no negative treatment.”

Officers would later tell the Stewarts the man was known to police from previous encounters. They supposed he stripped down and lay in water because people high on meth sometimes feel their bodies are overheating.

If police had left at that point, it would have been good enough, and the Stewarts would have been thankful. But two officers, badge numbers 2893 and 3120, stayed behind and helped the Stewarts tape garbage bags over broken windows to keep out insects and the elements.

Cathy said she burst into tears, shaken by the trauma of the night and moved with appreciation for the hands-on help by police.

“Helping someone repair their house, that has to be beyond the call of duty,” Bob said.

The impressive police response continued later that evening when an officer telephoned the Stewarts, just to check in and ask how they were doing.

Like most Winnipeggers, the Stewarts are well aware polls show many Winnipeggers have a low level of trust in their police officers. Several high-profile cases have centered around whether police used an inappropriate level of force, and whether they unfairly target Indigenous people and people of colour.

But the Stewarts, like most of us, had never been victims of a violent crime. They had no reason to need police. Until they did.

Their personal encounter with police has shaped the Stewart’s opinion more than second-hand news accounts.

“I feel grateful that we have people like that looking after us,” said Cathy.

Carl DeGurse is a member of the Free Press editorial board.

Carl DeGurse

Carl DeGurse
Senior copy editor

Carl DeGurse’s role at the Free Press is a matter of opinion. A lot of opinions.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us