As the dust settles after the large convoy protest outside the Manitoba Legislative Building, police are now being grilled over how it was handled – this time by the Winnipeg Police Board at City Hall.
And Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth remains steadfast in his defence.
“It’s pretty rare to have a gathering that went that long. No violence, no mass arrests, no use of force on that,” said Smyth. “Part of it was good.”
Smyth and his team gave the board a breakdown of how the protest and negotiations shook out, including the daily discussion with organizers.
But board chair Markus Chambers says more of that communication should have been given to Winnipeggers and the board earlier than it was.
“For me, it’s about being accountable and that accountability comes with the communication,” Chambers said. “It was a matter of trying to get that information from the service to make sure that it is being effectively managed and that they have a plan in place.”
Senior officers were again questions about why they didn’t use certain tactics, like ticketing, to try to disrupt protesters near the beginning.
Police say there were roughly 150 full-time protesters there each day, and Superintendent Dave Dalal says handing out one ticket in a crowd could have triggered them.
“Ticketing is a form of enforcement and it’s a form of escalation”, Dalal said.
“Going down to ticket one person, we need to be prepared that we maybe surrounded by those supporting that person and it would cause a larger police response. I’m not prepared to send a single officer to do anything without enough back up, to deal with the entire group that is there determined to fight us.”
Smyth says he’s open to a larger community forum to debrief the incident, but made no firm commitments.
More than 2800 police hours from nearly 240 officers were put into the protest, costing taxpayers more than $100,000 in overtime.