Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Man of vision

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 It is understandable a devout Christian would see the hand of God at work in the world, that faith would be "foundational" to everything he does. Winnipeggers, however, are equally justified in expecting their new police chief, Devon Clunis, would have a less supernatural plan for battling the city’s ignominious crime rate.

Winnipeg often is labelled Canada’s murder and violent-crime capital, spurring the addition of millions of dollars annually into the Winnipeg Police Service budget. Mayor Sam Katz once talked animatedly about expecting value for money — a drop in the crime rate, in return for the spending — but years of waiting for such a payoff has deflated such optimism.

 Now citizens are told acting Chief Clunis believes violent crime is not something that can simply be "policed away." He told ChristianWeek recently something "phenomenal" will happen in this city as he calls to prayer those of all faiths to cut crime and to move people to action. "I truly believe it’s coming. I don’t think I arrived at this position just by chance," he told the newsmagazine.

 True, peppering the streets with uniformed officers would have limited impact on crime, the roots of which are societal. But the police chief is not hired to engage in mass invocation for divine intervention. Citizens expect an experienced, shrewd manager who can recognize and respond to emerging patterns of crime and bolster enforcement where weak. A certain kind of vision is required to pull together the parts of effective crimefighting strategy. That plan should be firmly planted in facts and the humanly possible, something everyone can understand and support.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

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