Free up police by putting sheriffs in Winnipeg hospitals: mayoral candidate Kevin Klein

In the first policy announcement of his campaign, Winnipeg mayoral candidate Kevin Klein made a number of proposals Friday to take aim at the issue of crime in the city.

That included the idea of talking to the provincial government about putting sheriffs in Winnipeg hospitals, in order to free up police resources.

Right now, police officers are tied up at hospitals when they have to wait with people in custody who need treatment, leading to longer response times for people reporting crime, said Klein, who made the announcement outside Sargent Sundae on Portage Avenue in St. James.

“When a person in custody arrives, the sheriffs could take over responsibility and allow police officers to get back on the street,” he said. “And when they get back on the street, we know that that queue will come down.”

The proposal to place sheriffs in hospitals was one of a number of crime-related issues Klein discussed on Friday.

He also pledged to end the practice of the City of Winnipeg’s fleet department purchasing and leasing vehicles to the police. He said as mayor, he would instead allow the police service to purchase the vehicles directly, which he said would decrease costs.

Klein noted Winnipeg is on track for a record-breaking number of homicides this year. There have been 32 homicides this year so far. The highest number ever reported in the city was 44 in 2019.

“Everyone with a gun and a badge should be on the street and being utilized properly. That’s how we start to address crime,” he said.

‘No 10-point plan’ will reduce crime

Klein also made an apparent dig at his rival Glen Murray during his announcement.

On Thursday, Murray released a 10-point plan for improving transit safety, which would include training teams of people with skills in mental health and conflict resolution work to intervene in conflicts on buses.

“There’s no 10-point plan that will work” to deal with crime, Klein said. 

Probe Research poll released on July 28 — before Klein had declared his candidacy — said 44 per cent of decided voters intended to vote for Murray. None of the other candidates registered at that time had more than 20 per cent support, according to the poll.

In that same survey, 36 per cent of respondents said they would consider voting for Klein if he ran for mayor.

The online poll surveyed 622 adults. Online polls cannot be given a margin of error, but a random and representative non-convenience sample of 622 adults would have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Klein formally entered the race for mayor on Aug. 3. 

Klein, who is the current councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood and a former chair of the Winnipeg Police Board, was joined at his Friday event by two candidates for the St. James council seat — retired businessperson Kelly Ryback and former police officer Tim Diack — as well as retired Peak of the Market president and CEO Larry McIntosh.

Other people registered to run in St. James are Shawn Dobson, Daevid Ramey and Eddie Ayoub.

Klein and Murray are among 14 candidates running for mayor. The others are Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Scott Gillingham, Shaun Loney, Jenny Motkaluk, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Jessica Peebles, Rick Shone, Govind Thawani, Desmond Thomas and Don Woodstock.

Election day is Oct. 26.

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