The city councillor who chairs the Winnipeg Police Board says he wants to increase the transparency of background checks for board appointees after Coun. Vivian Santos failed a security check by the Winnipeg Police Service.
Coun. Markus Chambers said he’ll introduce a motion at today’s council meeting to ensure transparency and neutrality in the background checks.
He’s proposing that the city bureaucracy examine how background security checks are performed in other jurisdictions. He is seeking information on the breadth of such checks and their intended purpose.
If his motion is passed, the report would be due in 90 days. A similar report was commissioned in Manitoba in 2013, Chambers said.
Getting information about the police service’s background check protocols will lead to meaningful policy change, Chambers said.
"Instead of just jumping to change things, let’s be informed first to ensure that we’re doing the right thing," he said. "It’s about doing it in a very thoughtful manner, not just reacting to the situation that’s erupted since Coun. Santos’s background check came back."
Chambers said he wants to learn how other places have improved their appointment process to local police boards. It’s important to determine the background check’s purpose, too, he said. "(So we can) ensure that it’s about mitigating risks and vulnerabilities, that it’s not used to weed somebody out who has outspoken views on policing."
Even with the review, Chambers said he has confidence in the WPS doing diligent background checks and that the procedure is critical when hiring for a variety of roles, including child-care workers and bank employees.
Winnipeg Police Board appointees must pass a background security check. City council unanimously appointed Santos to the police board in late June, but the Winnipeg Police Service denied her Level 2 security clearance without an explanation.
Santos resigned from the position on July 14. Later, on Twitter, she backtracked and said that police denied her procedural fairness and she’s reconsidering her resignation. She added that she’s reviewing legal options to clear her name.
Community journalist — The Headliner
Gabrielle Piché is the community journalist for The Headliner. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org