Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Police response

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Police misconduct can lead to a loss of community confidence, particularly when it is kept secret or there is a delay in the release of some information by the chief executive. That's why it was so encouraging to see Winnipeg Chief Devon Clunis call a media conference Tuesday to disclose there might have been a problem with the way emergency calls were handled in the case of a weekend shooting.

The chief said he had ordered an investigation to determine why police didn't respond immediately to calls for help.

In holding a briefing before it became a media circus, the chief helped to build trust and confidence the force wants to be open, even when it is not forced to do so.

The new Winnipeg Police Board has made transparency and openness a priority, but Chief Clunis was acting on his own sense of the public's right to know. The problem, and it is still a problem, is the force sometimes doesn't properly triage public controversies. Citizens are too often provided only the sparsest details on important matters.

Not every issue or car accident requires an immediate response, but some incidents do. Hopefully, the chief's swift reaction on Tuesday is an indication of a more open culture that is not afraid of information.

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 May 8, 2014 A12

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