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New city police board starts up

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/6/2013 (1494 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Eight years after Crystal Taman died when a truck driven by an off-duty city police officer rear-ended her at a red light, a civilian-led board has started overseeing the Winnipeg Police Service.

It was the death of Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three, on Feb. 25, 2005, and the subsequent botched police investigation that not only sparked a provincial inquiry but also caused the provincial government to amend the Police Services Act in 2009.

Chief among the amendments was one forcing Winnipeg and 10 other municipalities to create civilian-led police boards.

On Friday, the Winnipeg Police Board -- four citizens and two city councillors -- took its first steps after the members were sworn in by Mayor Sam Katz.

"We set the priorities for the Winnipeg police, and we hire, fire and evaluate the chief of police," board chairman Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said afterwards. "This is a new process going forward."

The new board also has the responsibility to recommend the police budget to city council.

Police Chief Devon Clunis said he has no problem reporting to the new board instead of the civic protection and community services committee.

"I don't think there will be a significant difference," Clunis said. "All of us have the same goal -- to have the safest city we can."

The first and only items of business at the inaugural meeting were approving the next three meeting dates, giving approval to a $233,588 budget for the last six months of this year, and choosing a subcommittee to search for an executive director. The budget calls for a salary of $69,750 for the members from July to December.

"This is probably the shortest meeting we will have," board member Mary Jane Loustel said.

Afterwards, Loustel said she is looking forward to the board getting to work in the fall after summer training sessions.

"We've pulled together a great group of people... It is our responsibility to provide leadership for future generations," Loustel said.

Board member Dave Keam, president of Best Sleep Centre, said he's "looking forward to making a difference... It's a way for me to give back."

The final member of the board still has to be chosen by the province.

The province originally appointed Louise Simbandumwe to the board, but the board was delayed when she said having Winnipeg police do background checks on nominees was a conflict of interest. The city has since decided the RCMP can do the security checks.

The members of the Winnipeg Police Board are:

-- Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands), chairman of the board and chairman of the civic protection and community services committee, which formerly oversaw the police.

-- Paul Edwards, a lawyer with Duboff Edwards Haight and Schachter and a former leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party. He will also serve as vice-chairman of the board.

-- Coun. Thomas Steen (Elmwood-East Kildonan), a member of the original Winnipeg Jets and a city councillor responsible for youth and recreational opportunities.

-- David Keam, president of Best Sleep Centre and former member of the Winnipeg Police Advisory Board.

-- Mary Jane Loustel, chairwoman of Economic Development Winnipeg, national aboriginal program executive for IBM Canada and board director and chairwoman of the Aboriginal Human Resources Council's finance committee.

-- Leslie Spillett, one of two members appointed to the board by the provincial government. She is founder of the aboriginal organization Ka Ni Kanichihk.

The provincial government has yet to determine its second appointee.


Read more by Kevin Rollason.


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