Last week's release of the annual report on crime and disorder in the city put a lot of things in a new perspective---starting with the surprise retirement of the police chief and ending with an abrasive member of the police board getting the hook.
Back in March, Police Chief Devon Clunis made a stunning announcement---he was quitting. Only 52, he was retiring after 29 years as a cop. He had been in the top job barely 3 l/2 years, though, which is why people were so surprised he was anxious to leave.
Anxious to leave. That's a polite way to say bolting for the exit.
Clunis made a big noise when he was hired as police chief. He was literally going to change the culture of policing, he declared. Fighting crime was so yesterday, he sneered. He was going to mobilize entire communities, heal social ills, and --- wait for it --- eliminate the root causes of crime.
Well, he changed the mission statement, which is on Page One of the crime report next to his picture:Our Mission: Build safe and healthy
communities across Winnipeg through
excellence in law enforcement and
leadership in crime prevention through
'Mission Accomplished,' Clunis said when leaving. Before leaving, actually, because his last day was July 7, two weeks before he would have had to sign the annual report card on the work of the Winnipeg Police Service---which carried a mark of F for Failure.Total reported crimes up 7 percent.Break-ins up 19 percent.Violent crime up 6 percent.Robberies alone up 9 percent.There were even 339 assaults on police officers, almost one a day, up 25 percent from 2014.
Violent crimes by youth were up 7 percent; property crimes, 12 percent.
Winnipeg has relinquished the poisonous title of Murder Capital of Canada to Regina but carries the equally disgraceful title of Violent Crime Capital of the country. Given that most murders are not random and violent crime often is, it isn't much of a welcome change. The violent crime severity index for Winnipeg, which measures both the number and seriousness of offences, increased by five per cent in 2015.
Police spokesmen made pathetic attempts to amerliorate the damning police stats, starting with 'crime is up in cities across the country.'
NEWS FLASH: We don't live in other cities!
Unless you're saying crime spreads from province to province like the swine flu virus then crime rates in other cities are NO EXCUSE.
The 2015 crime stats did not hatch the day before the annual report was released. They had circulated within police and government circles for weeks. Chief Clunis knew what the stats said when he announced his retirement. And new Premier Brian Pallister knew what they said when he replaced two NDP appointees on the Winnipeg police board with two of his own.
The Winnipeg press dutifully followed the NDP political narrative in reporting the police board changes, concentrating on the removal of Leslie Spillett.
Spillett, you were told, was an aboriginal representative on the board and was being removed because, well, you know. (Hint, the Conservatives are racists.)
The only thing wrong with all those stories is the facts. Spillett is and was never an aboriginal representative except in her own mind. She was a representative of the Manitoba New Democratic Party as their appointee.
She has never been elected by native people to represent native people in Winnipeg in any capacity. She is identified as an "aboriginal activist", which is not a real job since you need no skills, no training, no employer, and no followers, just a loud voice.
Angeline Ramkissoon, a retired inner-city school principal, was the other NDP appointee on the police board who was replaced. Her attitude to race based representation is diametrically opposite to Spillett's. The Winnipeg Free Press interviewed her, to the detriment of Leslie Spillett:
"Ramkissoon, who is of South Asian descent, came to Canada in 1967 from Trinidad, but says that’s not why she was appointed to the police board.
"Yes, I came from an ethnic background, but that was not my focus. I saw myself as an administrator before I saw myself as a minority..."
She not only had a real job (which made her a role model to other immigrants) but she refused to be pigeon-holed as an ethnic anything.
The lame press failed to do any research into what Spillett brought to the police board table.If they had, they would have easily turned up this 2012 interview with Winnipeg-based Geez magazine.
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:gh4BOY1GbpoJ:geezmagazine.org/magazine/article/do-we-need-the-cops/+&cd=13&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=usIn an article headlined Do We Need The Cops, Spillett reveals her attitude towards the police.
"In Canada the police have historically been part of the project of cultural genocide, she said."
"She sees the western system of policing as culturally alien to an indigenous view."
"The police are only one part of a colonial system designed to condition superiority and inferiority complexes into different segments of the population."
"A few days of diversity training for cops won't do the trick, said Spillett. "If you have cancer, one chemo doesn't do the job."
Remember, Leslie Spillett wasn't bringing this attitude to the Winnipeg police board as a representative of the Inner City, or the aboriginal residents of the city.
She was representing the New Democratic Party of Manitoba. Any wonder why she was shown the door.
The police board is currently searching for a new police chief.Unfortunately, they're not looking for a crime fighter. They want another social worker.
The official ad for the job states that the "Chief of Police has a key and critical role in crime prevention through social development, community building, prevention strategies and proactive policing."
"...the ideal Chief of Police will be a community-focused change agent..."
"He or she will be cognizant of the structural barriers affecting many communities and therefore will support initiatives that will empower marginalized people and groups such as Indigenous people and newcomers."
Oh, if you're waiting for something about experience with crime fighting, you can stop now. There's not a word.