Demand exceeding number of officers available: Chief


Demand exceeding number of officers available: Chief

The number of calls Winnipeg police never responded to rose 19% during the first three months of this year, a fact the city’s police chief links to an “alarming” level of demand.

WPS data shows “not dispatched” calls accounted for 11% of total calls between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2017, which translates to 5,873 unanswered requests. That’s up from 4,926 during the same period last year.

WPS chief Danny Smyth stressed police continue to have good response times for all ongoing emergencies, with non-responses linked to lower priority requests like noise complaints.

But Smyth said demand is simply exceeding the number of officers available. Police data shows the number of overall calls for service rose to 55,771, up 6%, during the same period.

“It is alarming to see the number of dispatches going up,” said Smyth. “We’ve asked our analysts to really dig down deep and try to get a determination as to what they think is going on that’s causing that trend.”

Smyth said a traditional dip in police service calls during the winter months didn’t occur in 2017, though police have yet to figure out why.

The union for police officers believes high call volumes are reducing service levels to citizens for both non-violent and violent crimes.

“There’s not the resources on the street to respond in an appropriate manner,” said Maurice Sabourin, president of the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA). “When you’re looking at violent crimes and it taking 45 minutes for our members to get there, and not by any fault of their own, they are just busy. There are so many calls.”

Sabourin said the demand is also preventing officers from taking time off work. He said about 100 rejections of time-off requests have been reported to WPA over the past six months.

“We do have a stack of requests for time off that are being refused because there’s not enough resources on the street,” he said.

jpursaga@postmedia.com

Twitter: @pursagawpgsun 

Published at Fri, 05 May 2017 22:54:24 +0000