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!

James MacDonald going on indefinite sabbatical

A megachurch pastor has asked for prayers as he prepares to step aside from leadership…

Parents lose fight to homeschool children in Germany

A German family has lost another battle in their bid to homeschool their children.

Local church embraces live painting as another form of worship

A few times per year congregants at The Meeting Place in Winnipeg get to see the teaching…

Power restored to hundreds in Sturgeon Creek

A power outage had left about 200 customers without heat on one of the coldest days this…

Brossoit backstops Jets past Golden Knights

Laurent Brossoit won his seventh straight start as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Vegas…

Lauren Daigle giving back

Lauren Daigle is using her recent boost of fame to help support children living in…

WATCH: The Color debuts new song

Manitoba artists The Color recently debuted their brand new single which will be out on…

Red River Valley bracing for strong cold front

A blowing snow advisory has been issued by Environment Canada this afternoon.

Canadians speak in Winnipeg about being arrested in China

A Canadian couple who spent two years separated in prison in China were in Winnipeg…

WATCH: Winnipeg pastor's family's beautiful worship

It's a regular thing to hear praise and worship in the living room of the Froese house,…

Cold weather returning for 'foreseeable future'

Large amounts of snow are expected for central Manitoba beginning today, and it will…

POLL: Is your Christmas tree still up?

Some leave their tree up until Epiphany; some until Ukrainian Christmas; some until March.

God's request show

Read and listen to how God used CHVN's request show Friday morning to use prayer in an…

Police involved in 'serious incident' for second time this week

The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) has confirmed that a man has died after a…

Prevent carbon monoxide from poisoning your fresh air

The Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic (WFPS) service is reminding homeowners of one simple…

Protest expected at Portage & Main Thursday afternoon

A solidarity rally is planned for Thursday's afternoon rush hour at Winnipeg's most…

Missing woman may be in Winnipeg

RCMP in northern Manitoba are seeking assistance in locating a missing woman.

Police officer injured in pursuit Wednesday evening

More details are out after police were involved in a serious incident Wednesday evening.

Residential clearing begins Wednesday morning

The City of Winnipeg continues to dig out, and for the first time this winter, that…

Power restored for thousands

The lights are back on after a downed power line affected three substations and over…