Manitoba

Whiteout parties nudge police overtime into the red

The Winnipeg Police Service expects to exceed its overtime budget this year as a result of the downtown street parties during the Winipeg Jets' long playoff run.

Police OT went from being under budget to over budget, thanks to the Winnipeg Jets' playoff run

Three playoff rounds of downtown street parties has led the Winnipeg Police Service to blow their overtime budget. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The Winnipeg Police Service expects to exceed its overtime budget this year as a result of the downtown street parties during the Winnipeg Jets' playoff run.

The Winnipeg Jets played three rounds of playoff hockey, setting a franchise record and playing nine post-season games at Bell MTS Place.

The city, True North Sports & Entertainment and Economic Development Winnipeg organized a street party outside each of those home games.

The policing of these parties will blow the 2018 police overtime budget, the police service projects in a first-quarter financial report to the Winnipeg Police Board.

"Second-quarter resources required for the Jets whiteout events alter the projection from have been being under budget now to be over budget for year end," states the report, published Monday afternoon.

The report does not quantify the police overtime budget in dollars, but states the tab would have been worse had the Jets made it to the Stanley Cup final. 

In a separate report to the police board, also published Monday, Chief Danny Smyth commends his staff for ensuring "there were no serious incidents" during the whiteout parties.

"As I look back and realize the accomplishment of successfully navigating these celebrations, I am impressed with the level of professionalism demonstrated by our members," Smyth wrote. "The scope of this deployment and planning affected every single division in the service." 

Smyth attributed the absence of incidents to close co-ordination with the city's special events committee, lessons learned from the 2011 Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver and operational changes made in the wake of the Toronto van attack this spring.

"The tragedy in Toronto unfolded during these playoffs and was a catalyst for some of the layers of protection we initiated," Smyth wrote.

The police complement at the street parties peaked at 236 officers during the Western Conference final vs. the Vegas Golden Knights, Smyth wrote.

Both reports come before the police board on Friday.

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