Election-style attack ad blames mayor for 911 staffing shortages
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2018 4:55PM CST
A new election-style attack ad is raising alarm bells about 911 staffing levels and is targeting Mayor Brian Bowman.
The video depicts a girl hiding in a closet from a home invader. You can hear glass break as she dials 911, but no one is on the other end to answer her call for help.
"You have reached the Winnipeg police emergency line,” a recorded voice states.
As the home invader approaches, the narrator in the video asks,“Why is Winnipeg 911 not fully staffed? Ask Mayor Bowman.”
The online attack ad is courtesy of the Winnipeg Police Association. The union said the ad's purpose is to show more staff is needed in the 911 call centre to deal with an increase in call volumes due to an increase in violent crime. WPA president Moe Sabourin said the current police budget falls short.
"One person had to wait 18 minutes before their 911 call was answered. I don't know the severity of the call but to me that's just atrocious," said Sabourin.
The Winnipeg Police Service tells CTV News it can't locate a call where a person waited that long.
Mayor Brian Bowman said the way to tackle call volumes is by creating long-term treatment options to deal with the meth crisis which is tying up resources. He describes the union's approach as hostile and fearmongering.
"We don't want to see a return and go back to the days when this union and other special interests were calling the shots at city hall. I don't think Winnipeggers can afford to go back to those days," said Bowman.
Bowman also suggested the police union's ad is a bid to help his rival Jenny Motkaluk.
"I would just ask if this is a campaign expense by their candidate or not," said Bowman.
"I had absolutely no knowledge of the police union going and doing this," said Motkaluk.
Motkaluk said she was unaware of the ad and has not been endorsed by the police association.
"They, like everybody else in Winnipeg, have the opportunity to have opinions and share them," said Motkaluk.
The union said it's not endorsing any candidates.
"We want the citizens of Winnipeg to make their own decision on who they should vote for but you have to know what the facts are," said Sabourin.
The union said the ad is set to air on television next week.
While the WPA is calling for more 911 employees, the police service said there are three full time positions not currently filled. The service said successful candidates will be trained in January. It said when staffing shortages arise the shifts are covered by overtime and callouts.