A Helicopter for the Winnipeg Police – Part 1

The Players 

All the usual players are lined up in their starting positions.  The mayor has let it be known that he thinks Winnipeg needs a whirlybird.  After all, he had a conversation with a police officer from Alberta who told him that a helicopter in the air is as good as 18 police officers on the ground.  Convincing argument?  This is also another opportunity for the mayor to “deliver” something paid for by others, an area in which he’s demonstrated a certain amount of talent.  

 The Chief of Police, taking his lead from the mayor, concurs.  He even went to Alberta, took a ride, and liked it.  It would seem that, unlike the photo radar issue where the mayors message was not getting through to the Police Service, this is one of those issues where the directive has been received and the chief has the song book open at the right page.  

For the official opposition it’s a ‘no brainer’:  if they support the concept and it happens then they will be able to claim part of the credit.  If it doesn’t happen, then it serves to differentiate their position from that of the government.  The helicopter issue along with photo radar could be the first plank in the policing and law and order platform for the next election. The Provincial Conservatives are on side. 

The Winnipeg Sun is gleeful at the prospect of a police helicopter. 

Some civic politicians, sensing votes to be had, are lining up behind the Mayor.  

It’s almost a perfect storm.  

Why almost?   Because the Minister of Justice and Attorney General who would need to convince his  provincial colleagues that this would be a good expenditure of tax dollars has not weighed in yet.    

Could it be that he is the only decision maker in this equation that will actually gather the facts and make a rational as opposed to a political decision on this matter? 

In policing and other fields of public service delivery, there are times when political ‘wants’ trump operational ‘needs’.  In current times it seems that political decisions are made and then studies on the operational aspects of the issue are ordered to prop up the reigning political position.  

That would appear to be the case on the Winnipeg police helicopter question.  

Any bets that the Winnipeg Police examination of the issue will come out in support of the mayor’s  position?

Part 2 will examine the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ as they relate to public policy issues. 

Part 3 will look at the process that the Winnipeg Police Service should follow to determine if they ‘need’ a helicopter.

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