When Mike Brako and Ray Duma go to work, they’re paid to be the city’s eyes and ears on Winnipeg’s rivers.

Patrolling Winnipeg’s winter highway, Brako and Duma—both River Patrol Officers with the Winnipeg Police Service—spent part of Monday afternoon watching for hazards—like cracks, thin ice and open water.

“Just to make sure things aren’t kind of changing. The river is very dynamic. And especially with the season, the way that it’s warming up now,” Brako said.

The Red River Mutual Trail closed more than a week ago. Still, some are choosing to use it.

River Patrol Officers say in some spots the ice is between 90-100 cm thick. But in other spots, it’s all melted.

“Anytime that there’s an outflow that opens up some ice, we’re out there and we’re signing it, making sure people stay away from the areas,” Brako said.

On Monday, the duo went looking for open water. Once they found some, they put on life jackets. Strapping on a safety harness, Brako made his way into thin ice and flagged it so no one else would follow his footsteps.

“It’s quite clear that if we put those signs out there it could be evident that that area poses a danger to the public,” Ray Duma said.

Duma has worked on Winnipeg’s rivers for more than two decades. While his team hasn’t had to respond to any river rescues this winter, he has had to in the past.

“You have people falling through the ice throughout the winter, the coldest months, so it’s definitely something that somebody should look out for,” Duma said.