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Winnipeg Police Service

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Formed  1874
Headquarters  Winnipeg, Manitoba
Legal jurisdiction  Municipal
Motto  Building Relationships, A culture of safety for all (2015)
Legal personality  Governmental: Government agency
General nature  Law enforcement Civilian agency

The Winnipeg Police Service is the police force of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



When Winnipeg became a city in 1873, an election was held to select the city's new Mayor and Aldermen. Those appointed decided to hire city officials, including a Chief Constable. On February 23, 1874, John S. Ingram was appointed the first Chief of Police of Winnipeg.

During the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, most of the force was replaced with 2000 better paid special constables for refusing to sign a declaration promising to not belong to a union or participate in a sympathy strike, even though they remained on duty during the strike. The union was thus broken, and Chris H. Newton became the acting Chief Constable.

In 1972, Winnipeg merged with its eight neighbouring communities, causing the amalgamation of the communities, but still having eight police services with different uniforms and radio channels. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) contract for Charleswood and Headingly was cancelled, and that area fell under the Inner City patrol area. On October 21, 1974, the amalgamation of the services was complete, and the remaining eight services formed into six districts. On January 1, 1975, all police officers in Winnipeg started to wear the same uniform with matching shoulder flashes that stated, "One, with the strength of many".

In the early 1990s, J.B. Dale Henry, a retired RCMP officer and former commander of the Manitoba "D" division, was selected as the first Chief of Police not from the service's own ranks. Henry was well respected amongst minorities and sought to change and improve the image of police in Winnipeg. One of the most noticeable changes was the name for police, from the Winnipeg Police Force (which it had been for 120 years), to the Winnipeg Police Service. Another change was the addition of the motto "Community Commitment".

Henry also changed the department crest to the one known today and pictured above. The 13 golden stars on the badge represent the 13 communities that came together to form Winnipeg during the amalgamation in the 1970s, and the crocus is the Provincial flower.

In 2003, City Council approved a plan by the Winnipeg Police Service to go from six districts, to four. This plan involves three new police facilities. The new East District Station was completed in 2008, and the West District Station was completed in November 2013.


The Winnipeg Police Service is headed by Chief of Police Danny Smyth appointed November 8, 2016, succeeding Chief Devon Clunis who retired July 9, 2016. The three Deputy Chiefs are Art Stannard, Gord Perrier, and Jeff Szyszkowski. The service has 1442 officers of which approximately half are on the front lines or known as, General Patrol (Uniform Operations). The WPS also has over 510 civilian workers.


The City of Winnipeg is divided into four policing districts: Downtown, West, North and East. Each district contains several generalized and specialized police units.

Specialized units include:

  • Bicycle Patrol Unit
  • Bomb Disposal Unit
  • Canine Unit
  • Central Traffic Unit
  • Crowd Management Unit
  • Photo Enforcement Unit
  • Pawn Unit
  • River Patrol Unit
  • Underwater Search & Recovery Unit
  • Victim Services Unit
  • Street Crime Unit
  • Tactical Support Team (TST) – formerly the part-time Emergency Response Unit (ERU) made up of officers trained for special circumstances, such as hostage situations, armed and barricaded incidents and search warrants.
  • Training Unit – Includes, police vehicle operations instructors, policy and law instructors, firearms instructors, and use of force instructors – located at the WPS Training Academy
  • Division 40 – Criminal Investigation Bureau – Homicide, Drugs, Hate Crimes, Major Crimes, Morals, Integrated Proceeds of Crime (IPOC), Organized Crime and Crime Stoppers
  • Division 41 – Criminal Investigation Bureau – Missing Persons, Child Abuse, Internet Child Exploitation (ICE), Domestic Violence, High Risk Offenders, Sex Crimes, Vulnerable Persons, and Youth Crime
  • Division 42 – Criminal Investigation Bureau – Arson, Commercial Crime, Stolen Auto, Pawn, Surveillance and Forensic Services
  • Flight Operations Unit
  • Auxiliary Force Cadet Section
  • Fleet

    Both Marked and Unmarked.

  • Ford Police Interceptor Sedan
  • Ford Police Interceptor Utility
  • Ford Crown Victoria (Being Replaced)
  • EC120 B Colibri
  • Recruitment

    Potential trainees must be at least eighteen years old with a High School diploma, and able to complete the Police Officer's Physical Aptitude Test (POPAT), which determines a recruit's physical ability. Training is salaried and takes 37 weeks consisting of classroom, use of force and in the field training with assigned Field Training Officers, who supervise them while they carry out all regular duties. After this process is finished the recruit is inducted into the police service. After five years of general patrol service, officers may apply for specialty divisions like those listed above.

    Winnipeg Police Museum

    The Winnipeg Police Museum is a museum in Winnipeg. The museum displays the history of the Winnipeg Police Service from 1874 to the present. Pictures, equipment, vehicles and other artifacts are presented within the museum. An original 1911 jail cell from the North End Station is one of the highlights of the museum. In June, 2016, the museum moved to a new location inside police headquarters at 245 Smith Street.

    Incidents involving Aboriginals

    On March 9, 1988, Winnipeg Police Constable Robert Cross approached Aboriginal J.J. Harper, having mistaken him for an auto theft suspect, a struggle ensued . However he had grabbed the officer's service revolver and a life and death struggle ensued and the gun went off, killing Mr. Harper. Initially, this shooting was ruled as justified by the internal firearms board of enquiry. Subsequently, however, the shooting and other events led to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, a comprehensive investigation into the treatment of First Nations Peoples within the Manitoba justice system. In 1991, the inquiry concluded that the WPS internal investigation was faulty and intended more to exonerate Cross than to discover the truth. Furthermore, they ruled that Constable Cross had used excessive force and was therefore responsible for Harper's death even though Mr Harper grabbed at the officers revolver. Constable Cross left the department citing stress and died prematurely of heart disease in his 40's. The report recommended that, in the future, officer-involved shootings be investigated by independent parties.

    Recent cases

    On January 31, 2005, 18-year-old Matthew Dumas was armed with a screwdriver and was confronted Constable Dennis Gbarek (a Metis officer). At the time, Police were investigating a home invasion and Dumas was believed to be involved. The Constable ordered Dumas to drop the screwdriver several times with Dumas responding by lunging at the Constable and was shot to stop the threat. Dumas died from his injuries, It was later determined he was not involved in the home invasion. Two reviews of the shooting were performed by the Calgary Police Service on August 2006 and by the Ontario Crown Attorney's Office in May 2007 at the Manitoba government's request. Both reviews concluded the Winnipeg police investigation of the shooting was handled properly. On June 2008, an inquest was held into Dumas's death. The inquest's report, released in December 2008, ruled that racism was not a factor in the incident.

    Two incidents in summer 2008 sparked further accusations of racism within the police service. In July, 17-year-old Michael Langan, a Métis, died after being tasered by police. Witnesses had reported a youth breaking into a vehicle, and police encountered Langan several blocks away, allegedly wielding a knife and refusing to surrender. David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, suggested that racial profiling may have resulted in police using excessive force, an accusation that police chief Keith McCaskill denied. In August, Craig McDougall, a member of Wasagamach First Nation and nephew of J.J. Harper, was tasered then shot by police responding to a disturbance call in the city's West End. Police reported that McDougall was brandishing a knife, though family members have disputed that claim, saying McDougall was carrying a cellular phone.

    Other incidents

    In February 2005, a truck driven by off-duty WPS Constable Derek Harvey-Zenk, reportedly drunk after having attended an all-night drinking party, rear-ended and killed Crystal Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three, while she was stopped at a red light. The incident was initially investigated by East St. Paul police. Harvey-Zenk was originally charged with "impaired driving causing death" and numerous other charges. In July 2007, however, Harvey-Zenk was pled down to "dangerous driving causing death" (a lesser charge) and given a conditional sentence of "two years less a day", to be served at his home.

    Public outcry over the plea and allegations that the investigation had been botched led to a provincial inquiry, which began in June 2008. At the inquiry, multiple police officers testified that they did not notice Harvey-Zenk drinking, leading to allegations of a police cover-up. Furthermore, a waitress who served the officers liquor throughout the evening testified that she was pressured to not "remember too much" by the restaurant's manager, who was "friends" with the officers. Officers involved in the investigation have denied they gave preferential treatment to Harvey-Zenk.

    Chief Constable of the Winnipeg Police Force

  • John S. Ingram 1874 – 1875
  • D. B. Murray 1875 – 1887
  • John C. McRae 1887 – 1911
  • Donald Macpherson 1911 – 1919
  • Christopher H. Newton 1919 – 1934
  • George Smith 1934 – 1947
  • Charles mcIver 1947 – 1953
  • Robert T. Taft 1953 – 1965
  • George S. Blow 1965 – 1970
  • Norman M. Stewart 1970 - 1974
  • Chief of Winnipeg Police Department

  • Norman M. Stewart 1974 - 1981
  • Kenneth Johnston 1981 - 1984
  • Herb B. Stephen 1984 - 1991
  • Dale Henry 1991 - 1995
  • Chief of Winnipeg Police Service

  • Dale Henry 1995 - 1996
  • David A. Cassels 1996 - 1998
  • Jack Ewatski 1998-2007
  • Keith McCaskill 2007-2012
  • Devon Clunis 2012-2016
  • Danny Smyth 2016 -
  • Source: Winnipeg Sun and WPS


    Winnipeg Police Service Wikipedia