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Mayor Bowman denounces police association ad as ‘fear-mongering’

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. Marek Tkach / Global News

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is slamming a public service ad released by the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA) and said it’s nothing more than “fear-mongering” during an election campaign.

The WPA released two ads for television and online, which will begin airing on Sept. 10. One ad features a young woman hiding in a closet during a home invasion, and being placed on hold when she dials 911.

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“Why is Winnipeg 911 not fully staffed? Ask Mayor Bowman,” said a woman’s voice in the ad while ominous music plays in the background.

“When you dial 911, every second counts.”

READ MORE: Meth-fueled, brick-tossing, seven-hour rampage damages two cars, three windows, say Winnipeg police

“Why would there be staff cuts when there’s increases to the police budget?” Bowman said on 680 CJOB. “Let’s be clear, this is a page right out of the old school political playbook. I don’t think that Winnipeg really can afford to go back to the days when special interest groups or union leaders call the shots at City Hall.”

“This union in particular has been very good at demanding more money, but not very good at suggesting ways in which to be more efficient with the historic levels of funding that the police continue to receive,” said Bowman.

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“With the significant increase in service calls, 911 operators and Winnipeg police officers are stressed to the max to deliver the service and safety citizens expect,” said Maurice Sabourin, President of the WPA.

“The Winnipeg 911 communications centre must be fully staffed at all times in order for priority service calls to be answered and responded to quickly. People’s lives are at stake.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg teen arrested for 60 calls to 911 in less than a month

Sabourin said since the last municipal election, calls to the communication centre have increased by ten per cent.

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“This increase in call volume has been driven heavily due to the 48 per cent increase in emergency dispatched events from 2014 to 2017.”

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The second ad focuses on the force’s diversity and shared values.

The goal of the ads is to ensure public safety is a top priority for all candidates during the upcoming campaign, according to Sabourin.