WINNIPEG, MB - MAY 12, 2017: As plans take shape to alter policies around the safe and secure management of intoxicated persons in Winnipeg’s downtown, the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA) wants to ensure any changes put public safety first and do not just focus on cutting costs, said Maurice (Moe) Sabourin, President, WPA.
“There is no question that public intoxication remains an unfortunate challenge for some areas of our community,” said Sabourin. “Challenging social and economic conditions experienced by some members of our community can unfortunately manifest themselves with substance abuse, and a small minority of these cases do lead to instances of public intoxication. Some of these circumstances result in a need for Winnipeg Police Service members to respond.”
Sabourin noted the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act already focuses on the use of detoxification centres, and not prison or jail, in order to protect individuals. Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) members play a role in this process in order to protect public safety. “We would welcome any effort by government which might alleviate these challenges and provide more effective support to those suffering from addictions which lead to public intoxication,” said Sabourin. “But it is important that any changes which are made to these policies ensure public safety plays a key role. It is a sad truth that, unfortunately, some of these individuals are hard to manage, and often become violent. The Intoxicated Persons Detention Act allows police officers to temporarily detain those individuals that pose a danger to themselves or others and placing untrained persons in these situations can have catastrophic results. Even recent events have shown how violence can lead to tragedy in circumstances of public intoxication, and this underscores the need to ensure policies do not put untrained people at risk. That is why WPS members currently participate in the response to issues caused by intoxicated persons, to provide the maximum protection for all parties involved. We believe it is important this role continue, and changes to policy in this area must be driven by safety and success, and not a desire to cut budgets.”
Sabourin said the WPA would welcome the opportunity for dialogue with groups interested in making changes and improvements to the process around the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act. “Our members see the challenge on our streets, and we want to contribute to positive discussions on how to make improvements,” added Sabourin.
Maurice (Moe) Sabourin
Winnipeg Police Association
T: (204) 957-1579
M: (204) 228-4301