Winnipeg cops defend response time, say calls operate on priority system

Winnipeg police are defending their response time after the victim of a local commercial robbery spoke out.

The owner of a McPhillips Street bakery told Global Winnipeg earlier this week that officers took their time to arrive at the scene of an incident that left his employees fearful and traumatized.

Cinnaholic co-owner Colin Finlay told Global Winnipeg on Wednesday that the incident — the fifth violent occurrence at his store in only two years — involved a woman getting behind the counter and ripping out the cash register while yelling at employees.

Police were called, but because the suspect fled the scene, Finlay said, officers didn’t rush over — and said they would send someone “if there was time”.

Click to play video: 'Retailers raise concerns about theft and violence'

Retailers raise concerns about theft and violence

At a press conference Thursday morning, Insp. Gord Spado said while he understands the strong emotions victims have when they call 911, police have to prioritize calls based on immediate physical danger.

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“This is the worst time in their lives. They don’t call us because they’re having a good day,” he said.

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“We understand that frustration, but we have to be cognizant of the higher-priority calls, and that’s why we have a priority system.

“Without a priority system, we’d probably go first-in, first-out, and that’s not realistic in policing — you can’t do that, you have to deal with the higher-priority calls based on the circumstances that are happening at that time.”

Spado said he believes a deferred response was more appropriate in the case of the bakery, especially as the business was already closed at the time of the call.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba promises new money for Winnipeg police to target assaults and retail thefts'

Manitoba promises new money for Winnipeg police to target assaults and retail thefts

Retail theft and violent incidents at local businesses throughout the city continue to make headlines — something justice minister Matt Wiebe pledged to address, promising funding for overtime pay for law enforcement units that can target hot spots like retail stores and restaurants.

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“We’ve heard just recently from a number of groups — like retailers, like restaurants — who are saying there’s immediate need in their establishments, in their communities.” Wiebe told media on Wednesday.

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