Spit up: Winnipeg police, security guards say spitting incidents the new normal

Spitting becoming the new normal for Winnipeg police, security guards
Winnipeg police and local security guards face a number of dangers on the job, but one that is on the rise is spitting - and with that comes a number of health concerns.

Over the weekend, Winnipeg police were dealing with three separate cases where officers and a security guard were spat on.

For the people who work in the field, it’s becoming par for the course.

“I lost count. It happens on a regular basis,” said Clifford Sandison, head instructor with Toro Career Development.

“You’re going to get spit on, verbally abused or assaulted — it’s come to be part of the job.

“It’s not if it is going to happen, it’s when is it going to happen.”

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Sandison has been a security guard for about two decades and said he’s faced a number of scary encounters.

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“I’ve been shot at, stabbed, hit by cars, beaten up by groups of people,” he said.

“I was almost stabbed over a package of chicken. At that point I realized maybe this isn’t worth it. It’s not worth getting stabbed over someone’s chicken.”

Being spat on is one of the most frustrating things that’s happened to him on the job, he added.

“For me being spit on or someone trying to bite me, I take that personally, because I don’t know what that person has, some disease or infection, and I don’t want that.”

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George Van Mackelbergh, vice president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said being spit on is happening more often to officers.

“It’s always been a concern but it’s becoming more and more of a concern because the frequency is happening more and more,” he said.

“When somebody spits on you or spits in your eyes it’s still the exchange of fluids and unfortunately that seems to be a target of our people. They’re not spitting on your uniform, they’re spitting in their faces. There’s a considerable hazard that goes with that.”

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WATCH BELOW: (August 2016) Man arrested after spitting on, fighting with Winnipeg bus driver

Caught on video: Man arrested after spitting on, fighting with Winnipeg bus driver
Caught on video: Man arrested after spitting on, fighting with Winnipeg bus driver

When this happens to an officer on the job, Cst. Jay Murray with the Winnipeg Police Service said officers have to undergo a “cocktail” of drugs.

Manitoba’s public health department says you’re at risk of getting something like Hepatitis B or C or HIV if you get spit on and it goes into a cut, your eyes, nose or mouth.

If it does happen, the department says you should seek medical advice and you may need to go on medications within the first 72 hours.