WINNIPEG - Another serious incident – one which could easily have resulted in a serious injury or worse – is once again highlighting the need for a secure downtown parking solution for members of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).
On the early morning hours of March 17th, a WPS member had completed his shift and was returning to his parked vehicle when he was confronted by a male brandishing a firearm. This individual clearly identified the WPS member as a police officer and pulled the trigger on his weapon – and tragedy was averted only because the weapon failed to discharge.
Members of the WPS have very public roles and have been repeatedly targeted travelling between their parked vehicles and WPS facilities in Winnipeg at either the beginning or end of their shifts. The Winnipeg Police Association (WPA) has been raising concerns on this issue for a number of years.
“This is about as close a call as you can have, with a potential tragic loss being prevented only because a firearm malfunctioned,” said WPA President, Maurice ‘Moe’ Sabourin. “Safe working conditions are a core responsibility for every employer. The City of Winnipeg is not exempt from these responsibilities, and WPA members should not expect to have their safety concerns ignored. Every job is different, and serving as a member of the WPS has its own challenges – unfortunately, one of those challenges is that criminal elements will sometimes target our members at moments when they have just completed their shift, solely because they are members of the WPS. A safe and secure parking solution is needed to address this.”
Sabourin noted this most recent incident is not an isolated one – violent crime is on the rise in Winnipeg and WPS members have been specifically targeted on previous occasions, including one where an off duty officer was stabbed walking to his vehicle.
“After the previous incident, Mayor Bowman committed to reviewing this situation. Now, we have another incident in which a tragedy was avoided by the thinnest of margins,” said Sabourin. “It is time for the City of Winnipeg to finally address this issue. We call on the Mayor and members of Council to follow up on their commitments and to work with our members to find a solution. Just hoping for the next weapon to malfunction is not good enough anymore, and is certainly not a long term solution that any reasonable workplace would accept.”