Former Winnipeg police chief says city is ‘crying for a solution’ to crime crisis

Winnipeg may be struggling with a crime problem, but a former police chief says the city’s not a lost cause.

Devon Clunis, who headed up Winnipeg’s police force from 2012-2016, told 680 CJOB there are solutions, but it’s going to require strong leadership, and the collective will of Winnipeggers working together.

“The city is crying for a solution,” he said. “This is a collective response that we have to take. All of us coming together.

“It requires all those individuals looking at this city… and saying ‘we’re here to serve this city, and how can we serve this city effectively together’?”

Clunis pointed at unions, city executives including the current police board, and provincial lawmakers as groups that have to step up.

During Clunis’ tenure as police chief, he was a strong advocate of community policing, something he still believes in today.

The key, he said, is to give Winnipeg residents a vision and purpose, as well as path they can take to get involved and contribute to keeping their own communities safe.

“So long as we’re here, there’s always hope. There was a time when Winnipeg was considered murder capital, crime capital of the country. At that time, people were saying there’s no hope,” he said.

“We were able to rectify it, and we can certainly do it again. It requires the concerted effort of everyone in every sector.”

Since his retirement in 2016, Clunis – who spent almost three decades with the police service – has taken on very different pursuits, including a pair of children’s books co-written by his wife Pearlene.

His first foray into writing, The Little Boy From Jamaica, shared Clunis’ own history-making story as an immigrant who became the first black Canadian appointed to the role of police chief in Canada. The new follow-up, The Little Girl From Osoyoos, focuses on Pearlene’s story. It’s about a girl living in small-town Canada who is exposed to the diversity of the world’s cultures.

The book launches Saturday at McNally Robinson.

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