Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

What will it take to make this city safer for all of us?

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As a police officer in Winnipeg for over 26 years, I have seen many things.

I have seen extreme violence committed against others. And I've witnessed extreme compassion given to strangers.

I have seen people who think only about themselves, and I've seen individuals who have dedicated their lives to serving the community.

I have seen many things change and I have seen many things remain the same.

I have seen people accept responsibility for errors made, and I've seen others hide behind legal technicalities to get away with acts of criminality.

As the chief of police, a husband, father, and citizen of this city, I recognize each one of us has a limited amount of time to impact our community. Time passes quickly and with it, our opportunities to help people diminish.

One of the realities we need to accept before we can make changes for the better is how serious certain problems and issues are in our city. We need to acknowledge the inequity of living conditions across our city and how these inequities create fertile environments for crime. We need to recognize crime in one part of our city impacts the entire city. We need to recognize that many within our city are trapped in cycles of violence and victimization and are desperate for a way out. We need to recognize many are not the authors of their situations.

Apathy must diminish.

In order to do this, we need to not only talk with one another, but rather, communicate with each other. There is a big difference between the two. Part of that communication is ensuring individuals who don't understand an issue have an opportunity to learn as much as possible about it. This allows them to think about what is being said and then attach emotions to the problems we face. When people blend their emotions with their intellect, we have the ability and willingness to take a stand and act. This is how we can create serious, positive change for the benefit of everyone.

Over the past several months, I have attended a significant number of events throughout the city, including a series of public forums where I heard from residents and community leaders. We've learned a lot from these engagements. I've learned there is a silent majority of people in our city who are worn out with those who don't take responsibility for their actions, the actions of their families or the actions of various organizations.

I've concluded the silent majority must raise its voice. You are not alone. We are in the battle together to create a new culture in our city. It is a culture of safety built on trust, respect and accountability, with a heavy dose of compassion for one another.

In order to improve our level of communication with you on various issues, we will submit a monthly column to the Free Press for the next 12 months on serious topics and news items which affect all of us. This column will be called Taking a Stand. In addition to me, you will also hear from a number of officers who are equally determined to share their views. Each of these columns will be approved by me and represent the position of the Winnipeg Police Service. We will continue to submit our regular media releases, but this column will be much more than that. It will be a source of information that will provide a philosophical insight into our organization and shed light on things we can do to truly create a culture of safety in Winnipeg.

Thank you for the support you've given me since becoming your chief of police. I wish all of you the very best and hope you enjoyed the summer holiday season.

Devon Clunis is Winnipeg's police chief.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2013 B17

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