WINNIPEG – For the first time police will be inside arenas around Winnipeg monitoring minor hockey games this season.
They’ll be keeping an eye on the ice and the stands for any unruly behaviour.
The initiative CHECK-ing In was sparked after an aggressive hockey season last year that gave the game a black eye with three to five serious incidents, in some cases ending in charges being laid.
“It’s more education than deterrent, however everyone should know that Hockey Winnipeg still will sanction you if something does happen in the arena and if it’s something more severe the Winnipeg Police Service will also dole out some sanctions as well,” said Monte Miller, Hockey Winnipeg’s executive director.
CHECK-ing In is a partnership between the Winnipeg Police Service and Hockey Winnipeg to make the game more friendly.
“We’re not here to make a big scene and drag the parent off. It may be something where we notice something and when the game’s over have a chat with them, maybe phone them at a later time,” said Const. Brad Sparrow, Winnipeg Police Service.
Sparrow says the presence of officers at minor hockey games is the first of its kind in Canada and most hockey parents say is a long time coming.
“It’s usually the parents in the stands that cause the problems, not the kids on the ice. There are some crazy parents and grandparents out there who just go over the top,” said hockey parent Bruce Knoll.
“I’ve seen parents thrown out of rinks, it’s not nice to see and it’s not nice for the kids, it’s young kids playing hockey, we want it fun and safe for the kids,” said Janan Fileccia, another hockey parent.
Officers from the community relations division will attend four games over Hockey Winnipeg’s season-opening weekend and be at various other weekend games throughout the season.