Now Playing What just played?



Listen Live

With the recent increase in violent crime in Winnipeg, especially as a result of the influence of methamphetamines, will policing practices need to change?

According to University of Winnipeg professor of criminal justice Dr. Michael Weinrath, the answer is no.

"It shouldn't be affected," he states. "You go in as a police officer and you have to size up the situation. If you don't think the person is responding to your verbal commands... to de-escalate, you're going to have to make the decision that you're going to have to physically take the individual down or use more serious force."

Regardless of the outcome of the situation, it is always necessary to go through the steps as outlined by use of force protocol when assessing the level of retaliation required by a situation, says Weinrath, whether or not the individual is under the influence of an illegal substance.

Use of force protocol provides steps for police to de-escalate situations using the least amount of physical force possible, given the scenario at hand. Talking to the individual in question and issuing a warning typically act as the first few steps in this process; however, the higher the threat of violence and the more unpredictable the individual, the more likely the chance that a higher level of reactive force will become necessary.

"You're not really allowed to use force or deadly force unless as a police officer, you feel you're in danger of being injured or killed," Weinrath says.

When a situation that is obviously dangerous at first sight arises, though, police won't have time to think of the mental state of the individuals.

"When someone is impaired and they won't follow your instructions or if they're highly paranoid and agitated, they may even react prior to issuing a warning," explains Weinrath. "You're going to be a lot more cautious and quicker to use more serious force in de-escalating that situation."

In these circumstances, the focus of the police must be on what steps they must take to protect both themselves and the general public.

The use of methamphetamines and other opioids do not change the responsibility that police have to protect Winnipeggers from violent situations, nor their responsibility to take appropriate steps in determining the level of force to use in a confrontation, Weinrath advises.

"You have to remember that the police are the only entity in society aside from the military who we've given use of force to as citizens... and we also expect them not to misuse that authority."

While police may be encountering more impaired individuals, the professor reminds us that violent crime as the result of drug influence is nothing new.

"I would be cautious," Weinrath says. "There's always been danger to police and others from heavily intoxicated, aggressive individuals... on the one hand, if we have a lot of people who are using meth, and a lot of people who are agitated, certainly that's a concern for police. But on the other hand, I think that in any given situation, police have the responsibility to assess the situation and determine what, if any, force is required, and go through the proper steps to de-escalate the situation."

It's an issue that will never be completely cut-and-dry. Police alone can't solve all the problems that our city and our country face, reminds Weinrath. Further measures beyond simple police force, as well, are necessary to counteract the root of the issues we're hearing about and experiencing each day.

"Yes we'll have to use policing and incarceration and arrests in some cases, but it would be nice to see more effort by our provincial government in putting more resources in addictions services.

"The police can't arrest everyone. We need to invest in some treatment and some prevention as well."

Share this story!

Operation Red Nose calls for volunteers

A volunteer-run free ride service is marking 23 years of getting Winnipeggers home safely…

A warm heart on a cold day: Winnipeg remembers

The cold weather didn't stop a crowd from taking in a Remembrance Day service at Vimy…

Royal Winnipeg Rifles unveil Legacy Stone Project

Western Canada's oldest regiment celebrated its 135th anniversary by unveiling a new…

Pastor Rick Warren undergoes emergency surgery

Megachurch pastor and best selling Christian author Rick Warren was rushed to hospital on…

Manitoba First Nations to get accurate highway signage

Improved directional and community boundary signage is coming for First Nations along…

Bowman bets on Blue

The Mayors of Winnipeg and Regina have placed a wager on Sunday's West Division…

Ice musician to play in Winnipeg Warming Hut pavilion

Music from the Red River itself will be heard at The Forks this winter.

Bowman taps rookie councillor for Police Board Chair

Pending the results of a council vote next week, a rookie city councillor will be the new…

Missing man last seen a week ago

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) is requesting the public’s assistance in locating…

Joni Eareckson Tada speaks out in heartbreak over tragic shooting

Well known Christian speaker and author Joni Eareckson Tada is urging others to prayer…

Fighting human trafficking through hiking

Sylvia St Cyr, from Niverville, drove to the Grand Canyon along with her family to…

An interview with an 'atheist pastor'

Reverend Gretta Vosper is an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada. She's also…

What's open and what's not this Remembrance Day

Not sure what errands you can run or activities you can take in Sunday? Here is a list of…

Bitterly cold wind chills ahead

Winter is sweeping into southern Manitoba in full force over the Remembrance Day weekend.

Update: 16-year-old suspect facing 31 charges in connection to Bannerman standoff

Winnipeg Police say the 16-year-old boy who allegedly shot at police officers is facing a…

Students lead National Aboriginal Veterans Day ceremony at Neeginan Centre

November 8th is National Aboriginal Veterans Day.

'Atheist pastor' will continue to minister in United Church

A Toronto United Church minister that identifies as an atheist will remain ordained and…

Bear Clan seeking help after funding falls through

The Bear Clan Patrol’s future is unknown due to a lack of funding, but they're hoping…

Missing Steinbach teen believed to be in Winnipeg

The Steinbach RCMP are looking for missing teen. They say she is at risk of being…

WAG to launch Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has entered a partnership that will ensure Indigenous art from…