Newly elected Winnipeg City Councillor Marty Morantz could learn a thing or two about respectful dialogue.
Last week, Morantz called out respected Deputy Police Chief Art Stannard during a tense exchange regarding WPS staffing levels.
“I don’t want you to compromise service but it looks to me like there’s a lot of officers hanging around right now,” Morantz suggested.
Stannard’s attempt to defer the issue to the Winnipeg Police Board clearly annoyed Morantz.
“Why are you here, why are you sitting here?” Morantz fired back in a fractious retort.
In the postscript, Morantz refused to apologize for his perceived disrespect.
“I’m the Chair of Finance for the City of Winnipeg. They were there to talk about the financial position of the Winnipeg Police Service. So, no, I don’t think any of my questions were out-of-order,” he said to Winnipeg Free Press reporter Aldo Santin.
I heard the exchange and it seemed plenty disrespectful to me. I’m confident the men and women of the WPS are equally unimpressed by the suggestion they’re sitting around their police stations twiddling their thumbs.
Before he was elected to represent the Charleswood-Tuxedo-Whyte Ridge ward on City Council, Marty Morantz was a private sector lawyer specializing in real-estate, wills and estates.
As far as I know, he doesn’t have a degree in police sciences or any experience running a major police organization.
You would think his lack of experience might suggest a more temperate approach in his dialogue with senior police executives.
It’s all in the delivery.
Lack of corporate knowledge
Police Board Chair, Councillor Scott Gillingham, supported Morantz indicating his questions were valid.
But were they?
In August 2013, The Matrix Consulting Group conducted an in-depth study of WPS operations and determined the Organization was being operated in an efficient manner. The review came with a price tag of $174,000.
That same year the Canadian Police Association sponsored an in-depth review of WPS operations by Simon Fraser University which confirmed the Matrix findings. The cost of the review was estimated at $200,000.
In 2010, the WPS Homicide Unit was subjected to one of the most intensive operational reviews ever conducted on its operations. The review found the Unit was overworked and understaffed yet they secured a nation leading 90% solvency rate at approximately 50% of the cost of its comparators.
Staffing level analysis was conducted during these reviews and no recommendations were made to decrease staff.
A crime challenged city
The suggestion the WPS is over staffed seems to conflict with the reality of a crime challenged city. Recent Statistics Canada reports indicate the City of Winnipeg leads the country in a number of unenviable crime categories, namely:
- violent crime
- youth crime
The City of Winnipeg is considered the Aboriginal street gang capital of Canada with over 1,500 active gang members fighting for control of our streets.
Manitoba remains the provincial murder capital of Canada by a significant margin and has held the title for seven consecutive years.
Calls for service
The 2013 WPS Annual Report indicated calls for Police Service are continuing to trend upwards:
The increasing calls for service place a heavy burden on front line police officers.
The final analysis
The interests of the citizens of Winnipeg will not be advanced when City Councillors instigate demeaning, confrontational exchanges with senior Police executives.
Executives of the Police Service have long been aware of the need to operate the organization in a cost-effective, efficient manner. They’re also aware of their obligation to be accountable to City Hall and the citizens of our city. Police executives accept and welcome that responsibility.
The next time Mr. Morantz sits across the table from Deputy Chief Art Stannard, he should try to remember which one of them has served the citizens of Winnipeg for over 30 years. If he can’t figure that out then maybe our newly elected mayor could spell it out for him.
It’s called r e s p e c t. Marty Morantz should get some.
In the fall of 2014, The Fraser Institute published a study called, “Police and Crime Rates in Canada – A Comparison of Resources and Outcomes.”
The report was authored by Livio Di Matteo, a Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Di Matteo concluded the Winnipeg Police Service was one of the most over-staffed and inefficient police organizations in the country.
The results of the study were largely rejected because the findings were predicated solely on crime rate data. It also excluded important factors unique to the City of Winnipeg.