Answering 911 Calls – Not a New Issue

The recent administrative report submitted to Standing Committee on Protection and Community Services by the Winnipeg Police Service makes it sound as though the results of the recent review of the Winnipeg Police Communications Centre efficiency level came as a surprise to the Winnipeg Police Executive.

Who knew that 911 calls were not being answered in a timely manner? How did this issue progress to the point that, to quote from the report, the existing situation in the Communications Centre created a “risk that is not acceptable”.

I’m sure the call takers knew just as I’m sure their supervisors knew. I’m even quite sure that the Winnipeg Police Association knew. Unfortunately all the people that ‘knew’ were not in a position to effect change.

The issue of workload, outputs, outcomes, efficiency and cost effectives were addressed in the City of Winnipeg Audit Department report submitted in June of 2002 upon conclusion of their audit of the Communications Centre. Recommendation 32 of that reported stated:

The WPS Executive and Centre management should monitor the performance of the Centre on a regular basis. Periodic performance reports should cover the entire spectrum of the Centre’s activities and include measures of output, outcome, efficiency and cost effectiveness. Periodically, the actual results of the Centre should be compared to internal and external standards and benchmarks. As the objectives change, the performance targets and measures also need to be evaluated to determine if they require modification.

The Winnipeg Police Service Executive at that time committed to developing a report format that addressed the issues of performance and effectiveness, as well as to conducting periodic comparisons with internal and external standards and to benchmarking.

What is missing from the report to Standing Committee is any information about previous performance and benchmarking reports. One would be led to believe that this high risk situation developed suddenly. Do previous reports exist? If they exist, do they perhaps show a continuous trend of increased workload and a steady deterioration in the  level of service delivery over the past several years that was not addressed and  that the Police Service and the politicians don’t want to talk about now,  just before an election?

So why does this request now come before Standing Committee in September of 2010? And why does the request align so perfectly with the Mayor’s pre-election promises? Could it be that the Mayor instructed the police service to do this study (or other studies for that matter) so as to identify areas of police concern that he could incorporate into his election platform?

Back in the day when I was doing high school geometry we learned about a theorem called congruency. It basically says that if the 3 sides of a triangle are the same length and the angles match, the two triangles are congruent. We have here a scenario whereby the Mayor makes an election promise, the Police Service submits a report that asks for exactly what the Mayor has just promised, and on the day the announcement is made the Winnipeg Police Association endorses the Mayor. An argument could be made that we have congruence here, especially when each of these announcements falls perfectly one on top of the other like dominos – almost like it was planned.

Only during ‘silly season’, you say?

The complete City of Winnipeg Audit Report is available at: