Winnipeg Police Service cruisers chased slightly more vehicles in 2016, with stolen vehicles involved in 65% of those pursuits.
A report shows WPS officers pursued fleeing suspects 81 times in 2016, up from 73 occasions during 2015. The pursuits sparked 36 collisions and 13 injuries last year.
“I’m not a fan of pursuits if we can avoid them. They’re dangerous for our members, they’re dangerous for the public,” said WPS Chief Danny Smyth.
Police say stolen vehicles were used in 52 of the 81 pursuits, often driven by someone trying to evade arrest.
“The pursuits are often the consequence of other crimes, whether that be a break-in or a robbery,” said Smyth.
He said drivers can help curb the problem, since the vast majority of stolen cars were left running or with a key fob inside. The police chief said Air1, Winnipeg’s police helicopter, has helped end chases safely.
“If they’re up, they’re gold. It allows everyone to back off. You can’t outrun a helicopter,” he said.
Provincial operating funding for the chopper was cast in doubt by the previous NDP government, which planned to review its cost. That tab cost the province $1.8 million in 2015.
But Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said the review wasn’t done, as the current Progressive Conservative government has decided to leave the city to determine Air1’s future.
“Overall funding to the City of Winnipeg, including funds previously designated for the Air1 program, will flow under Manitoba’s new basket funding model that provides municipalities with the ability to determine how provincial funds are allocated,” wrote Stefanson in an email.
Some city councillors, however, have said details of the province’s 2017 budget remain unclear, including exactly what’s in it for Winnipeg.
Published at Fri, 05 May 2017 22:05:06 +0000