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News Room Inside the Winnipeg Police Service
Chief Danny Smyth takes Oath of Office

City of Winnipeg CAO Phil Sheegl swears in Devon Clunis as the 17th Chief of the Winnipeg Police Service

November 2, 2012 - Devon Clunis took his Oath of Office as he became Winnipeg's 17th Chief of Police today.


Following is a transcript of his speech:

"Greetings:

  • Minister Swan, Mayor Katz, Chief Judge Champagne, Members of City Council, CAO, Mr. Sheegl , Chief Nepinak, Chief Clearsky, Ms. Allard-Chartrand, Chief McCaskill, and Mrs. McCaskill, Members of the Police Community across the province, Men and women of the Winnipeg Police Service, Mr. Mike Sutherland – Marc Pellerin and George VanMackelberg and taking a page from your book Chief McCaskill , my lovely bride, Pearlene,
  • friends and family

Welcome and thank you for joining in this celebration today. 

Today is a historic day in our city.  Never before in the history of the City of Winnipeg, has a chief with such great hair, been followed by a chief with, well you can see for yourself. 

Chief McCaskill, you and I may differ in hair styles, but we have a great deal in common.  Five years ago, I stood in this very room and watched as you accepted the call to serve as our Chief of Police. 

You were driven by a desire to make a difference in our police service and you’ve worked to create a safer community built on strong trusting relationships. 

Without relationships, real caring relationships, we have little hope of making a meaningful, positive, impact in our city. 

Chief McCaskill, you’ve made a real difference in the Service, and our city, and I am honoured to follow in your footsteps.

I share your commitment to building relationships, realizing that it is only through caring relationships, that we will establish a strong, vibrant, safer Winnipeg.  

Thank you for the opportunities you have given me to lead in our organization.  They’ve been instrumental in getting me to this place.

I want to thank a number of additional individuals who I call “difference makers” in my life.

Mrs. Hanna

I must begin with my grade six teacher Mrs. Hanna.  Arriving in Canada from Jamaica came with many challenges.  The cultural and climate challenges are obvious. 

But the one that posed the greatest threat to my future, was the challenge of adjusting to educational standards.  I failed grade 6.  

Mrs. Hanna offered to meet with me, an hour before school daily, to help me.  Under her guidance, I excelled in school and the doors of a quality education were opened to me. 

Without Mrs. Hanna, those doors would have remained shut for a life time and I would not be standing here today as Winnipeg’s 17th Chief of Police. 

Approximately two months ago, I had the opportunity to visit Mrs. Hanna who was sick in hospital. I walked into her hospital room and said, Mrs. Hanna do you remember a little boy named Devon Clunis? 

I was surprised by her response. She said yes, and I’ve been following your story and praying that you would become the next Chief of Police. 

I thanked Mrs. Hanna simply for the privilege of being able to apply for the position of Chief of Police. 

Mrs. Hanna recently passed away and today, I thank her for her caring and her prayers.  She made a difference. 

High School

I attended St. John’s high school in the heart of the north end.  I love the north end.  There I met three teachers who made a difference in my life. 

Mr. Bill Wedlake, Mr. Brian Burdy and Mr. Dennis Pelisek. 

Each one left an indelible mark on me and I thank them all.  Mr. Wedlake has been like a father to me over the years and he’s here today.  You know sir, the difference you’ve made in my life. 

I want to note that teachers have one of the most important jobs in society, and they need our support as they work to help our children. 

One of my goals as Chief is to enhance our relationships with educators.   

Cst. Larry Bailey

Larry was my field training officer and has become a dear friend.  Though he is retired and living in London Ontario, Larry is here today.  You helped a scared young officer to succeed and overcome fears you didn’t know he had.  Thank you Larry.

Inspector Randy Benoit & S/Sgt Jernej Anderlic

In 2002 after my first promotion, they invited me to work with them in our Organizational Development & Support Division.  They are outstanding leaders who gave me the opportunity to work closely with our Executive. 

They gave me a glimpse into how things operated at the Executive level and sparked a desire in me, to one day serve the organization as an inspector.  I learned a great deal under their leadership.  Thank you both.

Art Stannard

I must thank my direct leader over the last four years, Deputy Chief Stannard.  You created an exemplary environment, which allowed us to achieve success in so many areas.  You sir, are the example of a true servant leader willing to do whatever it takes to encourage, and support your people.  You’ve given us a tremendous example to follow. 

There are many other members of the Service who I would not want to embarrass by naming publicly, but you know who you are.  You believed in me before I believed and I thank you.

Finally, I thank the selection committee for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chief.  I promise you nothing but my very best. 

I became a police officer out of great desire to make a difference in our community.    My career has given me enormous opportunities to fulfill that desire and it is that same desire for making a difference, that caused me to apply for the position of Chief of Police.

The basic mission of the Police Service is to prevent crime and disorder.  We know that citizens are concerned for their safety and that crime continues to be a primary concern.

Today, I am declaring that we will make a difference in preventing crime and disorder in our city.   

Today, I’m declaring that Winnipeg will become a safer city for all citizens.  We will do this, not I.

As your chief, I am committing to take the lead, but I need all of you to go with me. 

We will take a multi-facetted approach to reducing crime in our city. 

First, we will tackle crime head on.

There will be more officers on the front lines responding to calls for service.  Simply put, for those who choose to break the law, there will be consequences. 

But greater enforcement is only part of the solution.    

In addition to enforcement and apprehension, more emphasis must and will be placed on the PREVENTION of crime. 

There will be greater presence of officers on beats connecting with citizens and helping to build strong communities.

Crime prevention through social development will become a foundational philosophy of how we police our city.

  • We will work cooperatively with the community in addressing the social causes of crime. 

Those  include:

  • Poverty
  • poor living conditions
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • physical and sexual abuse
  • lack of parenting skills
  • Education  

These aren’t traditional police issues but we must become a catalyst for change.

Police consistently deal with the consequences associated with these social challenges and we realize we cannot arrest these issues away.

We must raise the social consciousness of our community, in understanding that much of our crime is socially constructed and that only by addressing the social roots of crime, will we see a cost effective, sustainable answer to crime.   
Winnipeg is a diverse city both in terms of demographics and community dynamics.   One model doesn’t fit all neighbourhoods.  We will be community specific in addressing crime and social problems. 

Aboriginal and Newcomer communities face unique challenges that must be addressed with cultural relevancy. 

I will be meeting with Aboriginal and Newcomer leaders to gain an understanding of their needs and learn how we can work together, to ensure success within the Aboriginal and Newcomer communities relative to policing and social success.  

I want every citizen of Winnipeg to understand that a fundamental principle of policing is that the police are the public and the public are the police; and that it is incumbent upon every citizen to do their part in adding to the overall welfare of our city

Crime is not simply the police’s problem. 

If we each do our part, we can eradicate the conditions conducive to the growth of crime in our city.  I am asking every citizen to examine their role in helping the police reduce crime and create a safer Winnipeg. 

We are at a critical time in our city’s history.  If we do not act cooperatively in addressing the social conditions at the root of crime, we may miss the opportunity to create a brighter future and be a difference maker.  Each one of us, is here at this time, for this purpose. 

Yes, Winnipeg has an historic crime problem.  But I believe it is one that can and will be overcome if we recognize the potential we have in working together.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead has a quote which I believe applies to our present situation.  She said;  “never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.  In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

I believe that one person can make a difference.  But I also know what can happen when the power of one is multiplied by a group of individuals committed to a cause. 

Together, we can make a difference and change the future of our city.  My life is an example of individuals willing to make such a difference and I believe we have the collective will to see real change happen in Winnipeg. 

I believe something great is going to happen in our city in terms of the reduction of crime, and I believe it is something we can only accomplish if we do it together.   The Winnipeg Police Service is calling.  Will you answer the call and join us.

Closing

I’ve intentionally left two very important individuals to the end of my remarks, because they simply have had the most influence in my life.

I must thank my mother, who bravely left all she knew and set out to find a new life for her family in Canada. 
It’s a lot colder mom, but it was worth it.  Thank you for your love and sacrifice.

And I come to the most important person in my life, my bride Pearlene.  You have been with me through this entire journey and have been my greatest source of comfort, support and strength. 

I wouldn’t be here without you and I’ll spend the rest of my days committed to showing you how much I appreciate you.  Thank you.

Finally, I thank you God for this day.  May God bless our City in the days and years ahead."

* * * * *

Chief Clunis began his career with the Winnipeg Police Service in 1987. He has served in all major areas of the organization including uniform patrol, traffic, plainclothes investigation, community relations, organizational development, and duty office (city-wide operational command), as well as a number of administrative leadership roles. Clunis' current assignment is overseeing the Service's Development Support Branch, which encompasses four divisions.

In addition to his leadership and management skills, Clunis is completing studies at the Bachelor's and Master's levels, and has overseen the development of an in-house leadership development program for newly-promoted police officers. He is a well-respected leader who has also provided critical support to his co-workers' well-being as a police chaplain.