Pubdate: Sat, 12 Aug 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Larry Kusch
Page: A9


MANITOBA RCMP officers are being equipped with special masks and
goggles to protect them in the event they're exposed to fentanyl, a
potentially deadly synthetic opiate.

They will also switch to black latex gloves instead of the
standard-issue blue ones to better detect the white powder.

Criminals are footing the bill.

Justice Minister Heather Stefanson announced on Friday that the
provincial government will spend nearly $54,000 from its criminal
property forfeiture fund to equip more than 1,000 front-line Mounties
with the new gear. Also included will be specialized drums to store

"Fentanyl is endangering the lives of Manitobans and it can also pose
an unexpected risk to police officers as they respond to calls for
service," Stefanson told a news conference at Manitoba RCMP

This year, Manitoba RCMP will receive $382,000 from the criminal
property forfeiture fund to invest in specialized tools, resources and
training, including equipment to enhance road safety, such as radar
guns and licence plate readers.

An announcement regarding forfeiture fund initiatives for Winnipeg
city police is expected soon.

The RCMP's commanding officer in Manitoba, Scott Kolody, said it's
important for members of the force to know they'll be safe when they
encounter fentanyl and other potentially lethal drugs.

Mounties, as a precaution, assume that any white powder they encounter
on the job is fentanyl until it can be tested.

"We do not take any chances," Kolody said.

The RCMP could not immediately say how often Manitoba officers come
into contact with fentanyl, but they said it can happen anywhere in
the province. The force's organized crime teams also work closely with
Canada Border Services Agency personnel to intercept suspicious
packages arriving from outside Canada.

Kolody said a portion of the criminal forfeiture funds will be used to
purchase 10 radar units to target speeding drivers. The new automated
licence readers will help remove suspended drivers and unregistered
vehicles from the road.

So far in 2017, there have been more than 40 deaths due to collisions
on Manitoba roads.

"Our goal is to reduce fatalities and enhance safety awareness,"
Kolody said.

Some of the criminal forfeiture money will go toward police outreach
programs for at-risk youth. To that end, the Cranberry Portage
detachment will receive money to purchase hockey equipment.

Since 2010, more than $16.5 million in assets have been seized in
Manitoba through criminal property forfeitures. There are now 120
active forfeiture files being pursued by the province, involving
vehicles, cash and other assets.
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