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Winnipeg Police Service

History & Museum > History of the Winnipeg Police

The New Frontier | The Early 1900's | The Roaring Twenties | The Second World War Years | The Fifties and Sixties | Into Amalgamation | The Recent Past | Military Service of WPS Members

PART SIX - INTO AMALGAMATION

Researched and written by Staff Sergeant Jack Templeman (retired)

Chief Blow was the ninth Chief Constable and lead the department out of the old Rupert Station into the modern Public Safety Building in 1966. This was the opportunity to show the public that the police force had outgrown the image of the old policeman on the beat and was now a modern force. The City of Winnipeg hosted the 1967 Pan-American Games and the department came out in their new uniforms with light blue shirts and a crest styled shoulder flash to replace the drab grey shirts previously worn.

Some old styles still proved their value when in 1966 the city was hit by the blizzard of March 4th that brought the city to a standstill but saw the officers out in full force in the traditional buffalo coats.

The increase of juveniles in criminal activities required a lot of time so in 1968 Chief Blow organized a new Juvenile Division to deal with the situation. These officers, both male and female, did all the follow-up work regarding juveniles.

1968 was also the year that motorists began to think twice about drinking and driving as the Breathalyzer was introduced and it was no longer just the opinion of an officer that could convict you in court.

In 1970 after 39 years of police service Chief Blow decided to retire following a disagreement with some senior officers in which he felt he did not get the proper support of the Police Commission.

The tenth and in effect the last Chief Constable of the Winnipeg Police Force was Superintendent Norman M. STEWART. This chief was to serve for eleven years which took the department through the transition of amalgamation. Part of that transition was to change the rank designation to "Chief of Police".

In 1969 Winnipeg Police joined other area police forces in paying tribute to St. Boniface Police Constable Len Shakespeare who was killed in the line of duty. In less than a year, June 1970, the Winnipeg Police Department lost one of their own with the murder of Detective Ronald HOUSTON who was stabbed to death during a stake-out for a vicious rapist. In both killings the murderers were arrested and convicted and sentenced to death but had their sentences commuted.

January 1st, 1972 saw the amalgamation of the City of Winnipeg with one mayor and council. Not all functions within the city joined together immediately. The police departments now consisted of eight community departments each with their own radio system, stations and distinct uniforms.

The departments that were effected in 1972 were North Kildonan which joined with East Kildonan, Old Kildonan-West St.Paul which joined with West Kildonan,Tuxedo which joined with Winnipeg Inner City and the RCMP contract in Charleswood was cancelled so that Winnipeg Inner City took over that responsibility which included Headingley. No other changes took place until 1974.

The size of the Winnipeg department continued to grow with the expanding workload and in 1973 the authorized strength was 493 officers and 141 staff for a total of 634. When the final amalgamation took place the force nearly doubled with the authorized strength of 1975 at 921 officers and 171 staff for a total of 1,091. This did not include 35 Commissionaires for parking patrol.

The final amalgamation of the police forces took place on OCTOBER 21st, 1974. At this time the remaining eight departments formed 6 districts with St. Vital Police joining St. Boniface to become district #5 and East Kildonan Police joining Transcona to become district #4. District #1 was the former Winnipeg Inner City Police in the downtown area. District #2 was the former St.James-Assiniboia Police to the west. District #3 to the north was the former West Kildonan Police. The south district #6 was made up from the Fort Garry Police with parts of Winnipeg Police who were now patrolling Tuxedo, Charleswood and Headingly. Effective January 1975 all officers were to be wearing the new amalgamated shoulder flashes, "One With The Strength of Many".

1975 saw a noticeable increase in the number of female constables joining the department with three in the first recruit class that year and in every class after that. This was also the year that the department initiated the employment of female police cadets.

The early years of amalgamation saw the establishment of a number of specialty units within the department besides the canine unit which began in 1972. An underwater recovery unit existed in the Fort Garry Police Department and was enlarged. A letter bomb explosion in the city brought about the creation of a bomb disposal unit. The possibilities of large disorders called for the establishment of a crowd control unit and the need for specially trained negotiators and weapons experts lead to the formation of an emergency response unit.

One of the big changes not only to the department but to the justice system occurred in 1977 when the jail facilities at the Public Safety Building were turned over to the province to become the Provincial Remand Centre. This change in responsibility also provided additional manpower back to street patrol.

In 1981 Chief Stewart handed over command of the force to Superintendent Kenneth JOHNSTON who was in charge of the Morality Division. ( continued )

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