May 22, 2019 2:13 pm
Updated: May 23, 2019 11:48 am

Violent weekend means not enough cops to deal with meth crisis: Winnipeg police union president

WATCH: After a particularly busy weekend, the president of the Winnipeg Police Association said resources are not what they need to be.

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The Winnipeg Police Service needs more officers, says the head of the police association.

Winnipeg Police Association president Moe Sabourin told 680 CJOB that after a weekend of violence against cops  – with eight incidents over the May long weekend – it’s clear the department is short-staffed while trying to tackle the meth crisis.

He says police are down about 125 officers over the past five years.

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“As members are retiring, they’re not hiring as quickly as they could,” he said.

“You don’t respond when you have an epidemic by having less members out on the street to deal with it. Our drug enforcement unit – which you’d think would be bolstered – has maybe two handfuls of people in it for a city of 750,000 people.”

READ MORE: Long weekend madness for Winnipeg police, as officers face multiple assaults, threats

Numbers from the Winnipeg Police Service show that the number of police officers have been declining but the number of other staff positions, including cadets is rising.

  • 2014: 1,430 officers and 477 staff positions
  • 2015: 1,425 officers and 491 staff positions
  • 2016: 1,421 officers and 504 staff positions
  • 2017: 1,383 officers and 526 staff positions

Kevin Klein, Chair of the Winnipeg Police Board, says the department is adding more civilian roles to free up officers.

“Officers being in the building doing paperwork or doing services and such the civilians can do, I think officers are better suited for taxpayers on the streets doing their jobs as officers,” he said.

“It doesn’t change the safety that’s being provided.”

Sabourin said with the ongoing drug crisis more officers are being targeted for violence.

“It’s very troubling … the numbers are drastically increasing for assaults against the members.

“We’re very concerned that those numbers are on the rise. The service is very quick to point out that it’s a meth epidemic, and while I don’t disagree, what I would suggest is we don’t have the resources to deal with the epidemic.”

WATCH: ‘We have the resources that we need,’say City police after WFPS complaint

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