Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Police inspector changes his hat

Chosen to direct new commission

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A 30-year officer of the Winnipeg Police Service is the new Manitoba Police Commission's first executive director.

Insp. Brian Cyncora said Friday his first day on the job is Aug. 29, adding he'll hit it running.

"I know there will be challenges, but I view them as opportunities," he said from his desk at the District 3 police station on Hartford Avenue. Cyncora's last day as a city police officer is Monday.

Cyncora, 53, said he sees his new post as a natural step from his life with the police service.

"I think I've been preparing my entire career for this," he said. "I've tried to help policing throughout my years on the service."

Cyncora, who recently obtained his masters of business administration degree, will need all he's learned in policing in his new job helping to set up and run the police commission.

The commission has been on the drawing board for about a year since the provincial government passed the Police Services Act, which changes how municipal police agencies have operated for decades.

It will create civilian-led boards with the power to hire and fire police chiefs for major municipal police services. The act's aim is to bring more civilian oversight to policing and make sure each officer is trained to the same standard.

Space for the commission is being set up in an office building at 155 Carlton St., where the Law Enforcement Review Agency is located.

The commission is headed by Dr. Rick Linden, a criminologist and the co-chairman of the Manitoba Auto Theft Task Force. The vice-chairwoman is Lynn Sauvé, program director of the Boys and Girls Club of Thompson. Commissioners are Sam Anderson, Mildred (Missy) Flett, Joe Gallagher, Roberta Graham, Harley Grouette, Habtamu Wedajo and Robert Taman.

Taman's wife, Crystal, was killed in 2005 when an off-duty Winnipeg police officer fell asleep behind the wheel of his truck and crashed into her car, which was stopped at a red light on Lagimodière Boulevard. The way police and prosecutors handled the investigation led to a public inquiry that criticized law enforcement for botching the case. The findings of the 2008 Taman inquiry laid the groundwork for the new police commission.

"The big piece is looking at what other provinces do," Justice Minister Andrew Swan said Friday of Cyncora's and the commission's work in the coming months. "It's no secret Manitoba was not the first province in the pool when it came to setting up a police commission. What's worked there with their police commissions? What can be improved, and what would be more appropriate for Manitoba? That work is continuing."

Linden said Cyncora is a perfect fit for the executive director's job.

"He has had a great deal of experience working with community groups in that area," Linden said in an email. "He is on the board of the Main Street Project and is also a member of the Indian Métis Friendship Centre. He has been involved in several innovative policing initiatives, including Project Restore, which was the predecessor of the Gang Response and Suppression Plan, and worked on the development of the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy and is very enthusiastic about adopting new policing strategies."

Retiring Winnipeg police Insp. Brian Cyncora is the new head of the Manitoba Police Commission. His new duties include:

setting up an independent investigative unit that will probe matters involving police officers, such as fatal shootings

picking and training civilian monitors who will observe those investigations

setting up municipal police boards in communities that have their own police services, such as Winnipeg, Brandon and Winkler

reviewing policing requirements in Manitoba

co-ordinating police standards in Manitoba

advising the justice minister, police chiefs, police boards and the RCMP on matters relating to law enforcement and policing

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 13, 2011 A12

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