He doesn’t know what his legacy will be but Winnipeg’s police chief is ready to retire.
Devon Clunis was sworn in November of 2012 after spending 29 years with Winnipeg Police.
He shifted the WPS towards better crime prevention and smart policing.
During a news conference this afternoon, Clunis thanked city leaders, officers and the people of Winnipeg for helping him accomplish what he felt was his purpose.
“Thank you to everyone for helping us to create truly what we set out to be, a culture for all of our citizens,” says Clunis.
He has worked to involve community stakeholders to help address some of the root problems that can lead to criminal behaviour.
Clunis was born in Jamaica and was Canada’s first black police chief.
Mayor Brian Bowman admits the retirement took him by surprise but calls Clunis a leader, particularly for young people.
“With hard work, vision and the right support surrounding you, you really can do anything regardless of who you are, where you live or where you come from,” says Bowman. “You’ve demonstrated that we are truly better together.”
Chief Clunis’s statement on his retirement:
I became a police officer out of a great desire to make a difference in our community. My career has given me enormous opportunities to fulfill that desire and it is that same desire for making a difference that caused me to apply for the position of Chief of Police.
When I was sworn in as Chief of Police on November 2nd, 2012 I declared that we will make a difference in preventing crime and disorder in our city by working together. By raising the consciousness of our community, in understanding that much of our crime is socially constructed and that only by addressing the social roots of crime, will we see a cost effective, sustainable answer to crime.
There are a lot of good things happening in our organization with a lot of attention focused on moving forward as we occupy our new headquarters. Things are progressing well and the future for the organization is on solid ground.
Over the past year I’ve been contemplating my future as Chief. I took on the job with specific goals in mind, wanting to transform the nature of policing in our city and to enhance the work environment for our members.
My policing career has always been about purpose and over the past year it has become increasingly clear to me that my purpose has been fulfilled with the support of all our members, past and present. It is time for me to pursue new goals, with the continuing purpose of impacting people in very positive ways.
I will be retiring from the Service in the near future. I am prepared to continue serving until a new Chief has been selected, which I hope will be within the next several months.
It has been my honour to work with Mayor Brian Bowman, Winnipeg Police Board chair Scott Gillingham, and the exceptional men and women of the Winnipeg Police Service. It has been my exceptional good fortune to serve the people of the City of Winnipeg.
Thank you for working with me in creating a culture of safety for all.
Officers Facing Layoffs?
The retirement announcement was at least partially overshadowed by reports up to 80 Winnipeg Police Officers may be losing their jobs.
Mynarski Councillor and Police Board member Ross Eadie says the police are facing a $2.45 million budget shortfall. He says that means jobs could be lost to balance the books.
“The last officers hired are the first ones out. The lowest paid officers. They’re estimated 80 full time positions will have to be reduced.”
Eadie says the Cadets program could be on the chopping block as well.
He says he has real concerns about the impact that might have on public safety. He thinks the proposed cuts may have played a role in Clunis retiring.
“This budget process this time was so difficult, I think he got worn down.”
Clunis denies any potential cuts have had any role in his decision.
Eadie says he’ll table a motion at city council on March 24th, calling for an additional .48% hike in property taxes. He says that would mean no officer layoffs would be required.
Meantime, Police Board Chair Scott Gillingham is calling Eadie’s suggestions that layoffs are on the table “inaccurate, inappropriate and reckless.”
Gillingham says the police board will meet tomorrow to present their ideas for the budget.
Mayor Brian Bowman says Eadie is off base.
“I think you can look at the preliminary budget, as table proposes an increase of 6.32% (for police) from last year’s budget. That by most definitions is an increase, not a cut.”
Bowman says the Police Board ultimately decides how the police budget is spent.