A Winnipeg city councillor is criticizing the police service's purchase of its first armoured vehicle, calling it a "gunship" and questioning how its purchase eluded politicians' budget oversight.
Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, a member of the city's protection, community services and parks committee, made the "gunship" reference during a committee meeting on Monday morning.
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When asked about that reference after the meeting, Wyatt said, "I don't know. It's something out of the movies, right? It's something you would see in Hollywood. It's something you would see if you were to go to a movie like The Avengers or something like that."
The purchase of the $342,800 Terradyne Gurkha MPV, which seats eight and comes with eight gun ports, has prompted some to argue that the armoured vehicle "militarizes" the police force.
When the purchase was announced last month, police argued that an armoured vehicle would help tactical officers deal with potentially dangerous incidents, such as when they execute search warrants.
The police service bought the armoured vehicle with funds it secured within its own budget and notified the police board afterwards.
Wyatt said he would not dispute police decisions to buy equipment if it's felt that such expenses are necessary, but he added that those purchases should be carefully monitored through a proper budget process.
"I'm not going to question every expenditure the Winnipeg Police Service makes. I think they are in a position on a daily basis to know their issues and needs," he told reporters.
"The issue that I was raising was just in terms of the reporting."
He added that the provincial government had granted the Winnipeg Police Board authority to oversee the Winnipeg Police Service.
"It causes me some concern when the board delegated that authority … [and] is not even aware, from what I can gather, of these decisions," he said.
"It should be a concern of council. This was a very high-profile matter in terms of what they were purchasing. The reality was it could have been anything, but it doesn't appear the oversight was there."
Wyatt said he is aware of efforts to set a $100,000 limit on undisclosed purchases by the police service. It's been proposed that any expenditure above that amount would be subject to approval by politicians.