BRANDON — Brandon police officers are being used to transport inmates between local jails and Winnipeg on the weekends, and the overtime is piling up, their union says.
The move — first announced in early June, a result of a lack of available jail staff — could have a resulting impact on the BPS budget, Brandon Police Association president Darren Creighton said Friday.
Previously, correctional officers at the Brandon jail were responsible for transporting inmates to other jails, such as the Winnipeg Remand Centre.
“This affects our budget because that’s overtime for cops to start driving people in and out of Winnipeg… which affects the taxpayers,” Creighton said.
On average, Creighton said he believes local prisoners are transported to Winnipeg approximately three times throughout the week.
“You’re bringing in (Brandon police) members to do that on overtime,” he said. “That affects everybody.”
Meanwhile, Chief Wayne Balcaen said he doesn’t believe the change is permanent, but it’s something the Brandon Police Service has run into “several times.”
“We’ll continue to work with the province, (Brandon Correctional Centre) and the (Manitoba) Sheriffs to determine the best route forward on this,” he said.
The cost of the trips will have an impact on the set BPS budget, he said, but officials will make sure staffing levels within the city are maintained.
A statement sent by a spokesperson for Manitoba Justice refers to the province ending the direct lockup agreement with Brandon police to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in jails.
“In light of the elimination of direct lock-up privileges and other changes to existing processes made to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Manitoba government has committed $8 million to municipal police agencies, including $4 million to the Brandon Police Service, to support them in adapting to these changes,” the statement reads.
“We thank our policing partners, including the Brandon Police Service, for their continued efforts to work in partnership with Manitoba Justice and keep Manitobans safe.”
The emailed statement does not give specifics on the situation at the Brandon Correctional Centre regarding the transportation of inmates or whether the change is permanent.
— Brandon Sun