Winnipeg police at higher risk of being poked by needles: union
CTVNews.ca ataff, with a report with CTV Winnipeg's Jeff Keele
Published Saturday, December 15, 2018 2:23PM EST
The police union in Winnipeg is calling for the purchase of special gloves to protect their officers from the increasing number of contaminated needles on the streets.
According to data obtained by CTV Winnipeg, contaminated needles have pricked officers 16 times in the past three years, compared to zero times in the two years prior.
“From the officers I talk to that is one of their biggest concerns on a daily basis is being stuck by a contaminated needle,” Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver told CTV Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Police Association is lobbying for poke-resistant gloves to protect on-duty officers from this growing problem.
“They are fairly expensive, they're $80 to $100, but in our view a member's safety should not be dependent on cost,” said Union President Moe Sabourin.
Since 2013, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has increased the number of needles it hands out by more than 400 per cent. It is expected to distribute more than 2 million needles in 2018.
The Bear Clan Patrol, a community organization in Winnipeg designed to prevent crime, has handed out the poke-resistant gloves to their members following a recent donation.
The organization has found more than 40,000 discarded needles this year alone.
“We’re coming across more of these things on a daily basis so it wouldn't surprise me at all if we're seeing more and more people getting poked,” said James Favel, co-founder of the Bear Clan Patrol.
Officers today use Kevlar-lined gloves, which protect them from being slashed with a knife, but they don’t protect against needles. Carver believes the current gloves are the better option, however.
“I'd rather have a slash-resistant glove because if I'm confronted by an individual with an edged weapon, this offers me protection against it, the puncture resistant glove doesn't,” he said.
A police health and safety committee is discussing the possibility of getting the poke-resistant gloves for their officers.