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Wednesday, November 29, 2017
News Release - Winnipeg Police Service
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Statement from Chief Danny Smyth
This statement is being released to focus awareness on drinking and driving. And more specifically, on the conduct of some of our members with respect to drinking and driving.
As you know, Cst. Justin Holz was charged with a number of offences including Impaired Driving Causing Death in a collision that took the life of Mr. Cody Severight in the North End last month. Our organization is still reeling from incident. My thoughts still go out to the Severight family who are dealing with the loss of their son, brother, and loved one.
Today I am informing the media about the arrests of two more Winnipeg Police members who have been involved in drinking and driving related offences.
This release is a departure from our normal practice because charges have not yet been formally laid against these officers. As such, I am not in a position to identify the officers. That will occur once charges are laid. This is a normal practice regardless of whether the person charged with an offence is a police officer.
On Monday November 20, an off duty officer was arrested by the RCMP in the Headingley area just outside the city. He will face charges that include care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired.
On Sunday November 26, an off duty officer was arrested by Winnipeg Police officers in West Kildonan. He will face charges that include care and control of a motor vehicle while impaired.
Both of these officers were released after their arrest and are scheduled to appear in court in January.
Both of these officers have been relieved of their duties and have been placed on administrative leave.
There has been a suggestion that we are not being transparent about these incidents. That is simply not true. In both cases, the police board and the city administrations office were informed. In addition, the IIU was informed of both incidents. These officers will be held accountable for their conduct in criminal proceedings and regulatory proceedings.
There has also been a suggestion that there is a police culture of binge drinking. I am going to push back a little on this idea. While I acknowledge that there are some members that may be engaging in this kind of behavior, there are approximately 1400 cops in Winnipeg. The vast majority do not engage in this kind of behavior.
For the small minority who may engage in unhealthy drinking or who may have drinking problems, let's be clear, this represents less than 1% of our members. Our intent is to help people before their conduct is subject to criminal or regulatory investigations.
This is done in two distinct processes and protocols:
Employee assistance is based on voluntariness. In the workplace this comes about as an offer to assist.
If a supervisor, or in some cases, if HR becomes aware of indicators that suggest that an employee needs help, they will offer to assist by ensuring that the employee is aware of the resources available to help.
Attempts are made to steer the member into seeking help voluntarily. They might seek assistance through our Behavioral Health Unit.
We also have a mandatory referral process where there are indicators that a member has a chronic problem.
These are problems that our society deals with every day. Police are no different. What makes this unique and perhaps newsworthy is that we are held to a higher standard because we are responsible for enforcing the laws and ensuring public safety.
As we enter into the festive season, I hope my message raises greater awareness around drinking and driving for members of the Winnipeg Police Service and for our community at large.
For further information contact either: Constable Rob Carver, Public Information Officer Constable Jay Murray, Public Information Officer Constable Tammy Skrabek, Public Information Officer Kelly Dehn, Manager of Public Affairs