Coun. Brian Mayes will join the Winnipeg Police Board, filling the spot of a colleague who didn’t receive the required security clearance.
City council approved the change in an organizational meeting Wednesday, which will make Mayes (St. Vital) the second councillor on the body that provides civilian governance and oversight of the Winnipeg Police Service. That spot opened up after Coun. Vivian Santos (Point Douglas) was denied the required police security clearance to join the board, a fact she revealed in July.
Mayes said he believes it’s important to have two council voices on the board, which also includes Coun. Markus Chambers (as its chairperson) and five community members. Since city council determines the size of the overall police budget, it will benefit from having a strong connection to the board that oversees the service, he said.
"I’ll work with the existing board members to get up to speed and try to have a little better connection between the council members and the police board," said Mayes.
The councillor said he believes the Winnipeg police should expand its efforts in community-based policing, especially after repeated protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality took place in Winnipeg, and around the world, this year.
Many protesters called for city council to divert some or all of the police budget to social service agencies, an issue Mayes said he’s still assessing.
"It’s a tumultuous time. I did vote for Coun. Santos, she was my first pick for this vacancy. That didn’t work out, so I’ll have to step up and see what I can do," he said.
Mayes said he has completed a security clearance without issue.
Global News has reported the reason Santos’ security clearance was denied is linked to a friend who was accused of trafficking cocaine.
Santos has since cut ties with that individual, and didn’t know about any alleged illegal activity at the time, she said. The allegations have not been proven in court.
In a written statement Wednesday, Santos said she supports Mayes’ appointment and the work of Winnipeg Police Board chairman Chambers.
"Both do know the challenges our city faces, with respect to policing and the community’s request for more citizen oversight and potential reform," wrote Santos.
The councillor added she is still reviewing different legal avenues to clear her name.
Mayor Brian Bowman said Mayes' selection for the board was largely left up to councillors, though he did vote to support it.
"I think he’ll be very diligent. There’s a lot of work involved, and he works very hard — so I appreciate his efforts," he said.
Traditionally, the November organizational meeting can also involve changes to the executive policy committee. That didn’t occur Wednesday, since the mayor already shuffled his inner circle in June.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.