On March 29th members from BarNone gave an opening statement to Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth during a town hall meeting. Below is a copy of our statement along with applicable sources for the information we shared.
In public forums, community outreach, and in their own strategic planning, the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) are always talking about how valuable their community partners are to the work that they do. And yet, in an era where social services and community groups are having to slash their budgets, the WPS continue to ask for, and receive, increased funding.
At 189 officers per 100,000 citizens, Winnipeg has one of the highest number of police officers per capita in the country (national average is 145), and as a result, they eat up over a quarter of the City’s budget, a percentage that has been steadily growing.
If the WPS really values their community partners as they say they do, then why are they continuing to ask for pay raises when most cops already earn over $100,000 a year, while their “valued partners”, already getting a fraction of the wage, are now facing layoffs? Why not use their considerable political clout to instead have that money re-directed to people who actually live in the community?
The WPS have recently opted to spend an estimated $200,000 on arming general patrol officers in the force with a semi-automatic assault rifles, and almost $350,000 on an armoured vehicle. Imagine what folks living in these communities could have done with that money to build a safer, healthier community, as opposed to an increasingly militarized one.