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Police Chief Devon Clunis gets high marks for optimism, but skeptics will undoubtedly be wary of his belief Winnipeg's crime rates could go down in five to 10 years if everyone pulls together.

Chief Clunis told a downtown business group police alone cannot eliminate crime, which he described as a social problem that requires commitments from governments and ordinary citizens.

The idea police cannot solve the world's problems and poverty, family breakdown and substance abuse are the real enemies of a safer society is not new. It's been the mantra of many former police chiefs, social activists and politicians.

Chief Clunis seems to believe, however, that if everyone contributed something toward building a better society, all would be well, or at least better. He might be right, but it's fair to question whether he's putting too much trust in the power of citizen action. Neighbourhood programs do make a difference, but they are not a solution for every social pathology or crime problem.

It's admirable the chief wants to engage the community, but the next time he meets with citizens, he should be sure to bring the mayor, the premier, a couple of MPs and possibly a few others who are more directly responsible and trained in mobilizing public opinion.

After all, police cannot do it alone.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2013 A12

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