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

Mayor Brian Bowman and Chief Danny Smyth make it official as Chief Smyth completes his Oath of Office

November 8, 2016 - Danny Smyth took his Oath of Office on November 8, 2016, becoming Winnipeg's 18th Chief of Police.

Following is a transcript of his speech:

Intro

Good afternoon everyone; thank-you for making the time to be here and to witness the Oath of Office.

I have served this city faithfully for 30 years, but the journey that has brought me here has taken a lifetime. There are people and circumstances that have had a tremendous influence on me. As I take on the role of Chief I think it is important to acknowledge those who have contributed and shared this journey.

Coaching and Mentoring

Chief Danny Smyth"It takes a whole village to raise a child." This is an old Nigerian proverb that most of us are familiar with. As many of you now know, I was adopted as a small child here in Winnipeg. So in many ways, I am that blank canvass that was raised and influenced by my community. Of course it began with my family. My Mom did something unconventional after giving birth to my sister. She opted to adopt me, and Dad while reluctant at first, came along for the ride. Then she gave birth to my brother. My sister and brother are both here today.

I pretty much had the typical middle class upbringing. I grew up in the North Kildonan area. I had a lot of friends, and I played a lot of sports both at school and at the community level. Coaches play an important role when we grow up. One of my hockey coaches had tremendous influence on me. I met Garry Allan when I was about 11 years old. He coached a number of the teams that I played on right up until I attended high school. He formed a strong relationship with my family, and continues to be a part of my life today some 40 years later. A relationship that has changed into equal parts mentor and friend. I am honored that he and his wife Betty are in attendance today. He has introduced me to a whole circle of his friends and I regularly enjoy their company and wisdom as builders and businessmen in the community. Doug, Steve, Paul. Thank-you all for being here.

At the age of 23 I entered into the police profession. There was much to learn and I was fortunate to cross paths with a number of good cops that were instrumental in showing me the way. While there are too many to mention here today, there are two people that had a big impact on my development earlier in my career:

Blair McCorrister  and Bruce Foster took me under their wings at different times and provided me with the knowledge and wisdom I would need to excel.

And there is one man I would cross paths with many times during my career with whom I have great respect. In the 1980's he was part of a team that kept me safe when I was assigned to undercover operations. In the 1990's I would work for him as a member of the Surveillance Unit.  In the early 2000's we would become peers as Sergeants on opposite shifts in Organized Crime. More recently, our roles reversed when I became his supervisor as Superintendent of Investigations. Retired Inspector Rick Guyader was someone I learned to rely on; he has looked out for me my whole career. He has been a great role model and a good friend. Recently, many people have described me as an honest straight shooter--well I can tell you that no one is more of a no nonsense straight shooter than Rick; a trait that I learned well from him. Rick had one rule that I will fondly remember. You would walk into his office and there on the grease board in bold writing were the words, "Don't make the boss look stupid!" That rule works on so many levels, that I may just have to borrow it. Thank-you for being here today.

Sometimes part of the journey is just having an opportunity to show people what you can do. There are two people that I want to thank for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to flourish as part of the Executive Team. Retired Deputy Chief Shelley Hart and the current Mayor of East St. Paul gave me the first real opportunity to act as Superintendent in the Investigations portfolio. We had a lot of private talks and she helped me put perspective on a lot things. Thank-you for being here today.

Retired Chief Devon Clunis also placed on lot of trust in me. On his very first day as Chief he promoted me to the rank of Superintendent. During his tenure, he would promote me again to Deputy Chief. Now Devon and I started our careers within a year of one another. But interestingly enough our paths never really crossed until I came up to the Executive Team. I am grateful for the opportunity. It has been an honor to serve as part of your team. I promise not to wreck the car.

Now when we first start in policing, we are assigned a field training officer to help us learn the ropes and keep us from getting into cack. It's a good system; ask any cop here and they will tell you who trained them. I wish we had a field training program for senior executive officers because nothing quite prepares you for the day-to-day rigours of a large Police Service. If we ever develop a training program for Executive Officers it will be modeled after Art Stannard, Art has been part of the Executive for over a dozen years. He is our de facto Chief of Operations, quietly making sure that things are done right and run smoothly. Art it has been my honor to work with you.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Honorable Phillip and Anita Lee, and the staff past and present at the Lieutenant Governor's office. I know the Lee's are currently travelling and couldn't be here today. Their daughters Maggie and Melinda are here on their behalf. I am honored. I served the Lieutenant Governor for 5 years as an Aide de Camp for the Lee's. I witnessed firsthand the grace and dignity that Their Honors bestowed upon the diverse people of our province. It is a style I will try to emulate as Chief of Police.

Staying Grounded

Chief Smyth is presented with the Winnipeg Police Service ColoursThere is a strong fraternal nature to policing. I suppose because of the shift work and the nature of the things we must sometimes deal with it is easy to identify with other cops. I recognized early on that policing can consume you if you let it. To counter that, it has always been important to me to stay connected to friends who are not cops. I still hang out with people that I met in my youth. It's one of the many things I love about Winnipeg. It has this big, small town feel, and it isn't uncommon to have childhood friends remain friends throughout your life. We have all taken different paths in life but remain connected by our youth, our community, and our shared experiences outside of work. Vince, Bob, Cheryl and Jan, I know you are here. Your support means a lot.

Mark Twain is often credited with the quote that "golf is a good walk spoiled”. Well clearly Mr. Twain didn't golf with the right people. Golf is one of my pastimes; it's 4 hours of uninterrupted time to unwind and enjoy the company of friends. Rob, Kevin, and the boys--I look forward to many more "good walks".

To all my friends:  Thank-you--you have kept me grounded.

Family - Everybody Loves Stan

Everyone probably remembers the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond". It was very popular in the early 2000's. Well in my world, "Everybody Loves Stan". If you were an employee with the Police Service prior to 1991 there is a good chance you know him. If you were a copper, he likely taught you how to shoot having spent almost half his 37 career as our Service's Range Officer and firearms trainer. Even if you weren't a cop, you probably came down to the range for the annual turkey shoot. Everybody loves Stan; and people I know both on and off the job tell me this often.

Well my relationship with Stan is a little more complicated than that. He is, of course, my Dad; and his presence and influence has been a constant in my life. Now that Stan and Gordon Sinclair have become buddies, most of you know a lot more about me.  Being adopted is a fact that I don't talk about much. Not because it's a secret, but because it never much mattered. Dad was always there--a quite presence that I could rely on. He never had much to say, but I knew he was there. And that presence gave me confidence when I explored opportunities as I came of age. At no point in my childhood did I ever feel that I didn't belong. I suppose if being adopted taught me anything it was empathy.  Inherently, I knew I was fortunate to belong to this family and privileged to be introduced to his world.

As a teen and young man I was pretty outgoing and independent. I had a plan; and that plan included a University education, and some travel around the world, and ultimately a career with the Winnipeg Polic Mom and Dad didn't understand what was driving these passions, but they supported me and provided me with the opportunity to pursue my dreams. They rarely questioned my decisions--well as long as I didn't overextend on my ability to pay for those deams, or more accurately, their ability to pay for things. That was a life-lesson in its own right.

Some of my fondest memories (while I came of age) were sitting around the dinner table. It wasn't the food that kept me coming back, no it was the debates. It was there at the dinner table that I learned to express my views. And my views often didn't align with Stan's. We had some heated debates--still do at times. The thing is I always felt safe expressing a contrarian viewpoint, and over time I became pretty confident defending a position. This skill has served me well--both in the field as I learned how to be a cop, and later on in the Boardroom as I learned how to run this organization.

Dad my love and respect for you runs deep.

Family - William & Samantha

My kids are here today. William and Samantha--thank-you for being here today. Or perhaps more accurately, thank-you for being seen in public with me today. This is very special to me, and I hope this is a memory you will carry with you for the rest of your lives.

The two of you, and the home we have with Mom, is my safe place, where I can rejuvenate and get away the trials and tribulations of the day. I love you, and I love the life we have together very much.
In fact the only member of our immediate family not here today is Templeton our dog. Yes we have a dog. Templeton is our family dog that my kids promised to look after.  I'm sure many of you know the drill. He is really mine--and he is the first dog I have ever owned.  Now I mention him for a few reasons: turns out he and I have a lot in common, and we have certainly bonded.

Both of us were rescues so to speak. The agencies that were caring for us dropped us off at good homes hoping that we would bond with our respective families. In this regard, we both seem to have won the adoption lottery.

The other reason I mention Templeton is because of what happens every day when I get home. No matter where he is, he comes running all excited. He jumps and spins and runs away and runs back to spin again. He is full of pure joy as he tries to lick my face or shake a paw. This daily ritual is really quite remarkable.

Sometimes it's difficult for me to express to you Will and Sam how much joy I feel when I come home at the end of the day and you guys are there. So the next time I come home I want you to think of Templeton and the unbridled joy he shows every day. That's how I feel when I get home and see you; although I promise not to jump on you or try to lick you on the face.

Cynthia - My Love

With apologies to every Judge I have ever testified in front of there are two oaths that take precedent to all others. The first took place approximately 15 minutes ago. History and the Board will judge how I live up to that oath. The other oath happened 16 years ago. There are three people here today that witnessed that one. My wife Cynthia. My Dad Stan. And Chief Justice Glenn Joyal. Yes—Chief Justice Glenn Joyal. I think he is here this afternoon. Glenn you hold a special place in my heart. Let me explain to the rest of you.

So when Cynthia and I decided to marry, we also decided that we would elope. We were past the point where the big fairy-tale wedding held any appeal. However, as much as we were excited and determined about running off to get married. We just couldn’t imagine excluding our parents. So here’s what we did:

I reached out to Glenn and arranged for him to marry us privately in his chambers. Glenn and I had a previous working relationship when I was working in Vice and he was a Federal Prosecutor. He also played hockey with us in the Police League. Now Glenn didn't just take the stipend and run. No, no, he insisted on meeting Cynthia beforehand. I suppose to ensure that she knew what she was getting herself into. And it didn't end after he officiated our marital vows. He checks in occasionally to ensure that I am living up to my end of the vows. So, I can assure the Board that I am accustomed to being held accountable. If you have any concerns, I refer you to Chief Justice Joyal as my reference. So Cynthia and I were wed right in Glenn's office at the Court House. Stan was essentially my best-man, and Cynthia’s mom stood up for her. Then the two of us headed off to Mexico. It was perfect. And Cynthia, it has been perfect ever since. I know I would not be standing here today without the love and support that you have given me. Thank-you, and buckle up for the rest of the ride. I love you.

Community Engagement

Chief Smyth is presented with a Star Blanket from Winnipeg's Aboriginal CommunitySo where do we go from here. Many have asked, where I want to take the Service? Well there are two events that are occurring this year that serve as fitting springboards as I embark on my tenure as Chief. This is the year of reconciliation, and the year we celebrate 100 years of "women in blue" in our city. Both events have themes of diversity and inclusion. I was reading an essay the other day and I came across these words: “I’m interested in exploring the ways in which women share knowledge to support their families and communities, and in examining the types of power—although often unrecognized in the public sphere—women hold in society.”

These words were written by Dr. Melanie Janzen, in a passage from the book Dropped Threads. She is the associate dean of undergraduate programs and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. She is also my friend and has helped shape many of my views regarding women and diversity both locally and in a more global context. And in what can only be described as weirdly Winnipeg way, she is married to one of my closest friends. In her essay, she went on to say:

“I understand that these women’s and children’s lives are not perfect. They are faced with issues that are not prevalent in my world…But what impresses me the most is not just the way in which the group cares for their children, but also the strong commitment to collaboration that these women have established in so many aspects of their lives…These women have found a way to share the load, to prosper not just individually, but also in ways that benefit their greater community. Undoubtedly, they could not achieve alone what they are able to do as a group.”

Melanie was speaking about a group of women she came to know in Uganda while researching her thesis. But she could just as easily have been describing the women that comprise many of the grass roots organizations in our own community. I speak often of community engagement and our partnerships with groups like the Winnipeg Outreach Network and the Sexually Exploited Youth Coalition, UMOJA. These groups are led by strong women in the community whom I have come to admire very much for their community commitment. Leaders like Leslie Spillet, Diane Redsky, Shahina Siddiqui, and my MLA Nahanni Fontaine… and there are so many more women who work tirelessly in our community.

This is the kind of community engagement I see as important. Partnering with groups like this is the true essence of crime prevention through social development--our combined efforts will help break through the social barriers that left unaddressed has often lead to involvement in crime.

So that's where I want to go, and I think the women in our community will play a huge role in helping us to get there.

One last thanks to all of you--my extended family, my friends and colleagues--for being here to launch my tenure as the 18th Chief of Police.

Times are changing. Here we go!"

* * * * *

Chief Smyth has been a member of the Winnipeg Police Service since 1986. He is a second generation police officer; following his father Stan into policing in 1986.   

During his career he has worked in a number of areas of the Police Service including Uniform Operations, Intelligence, Organized Crime, and Organizational Development.

In 2005 he was promoted to the senior rank of Inspector. In 2012 he was promoted to Superintendent. During that period he played key roles in the establishment of a full time Tactical Support Team, the Street Crime Unit, and the Counter-Exploitation Unit. 

In 2015 he was appointed to Deputy Chief where he was assigned to oversee the Criminal Investigations Bureau which includes Homicide, Major Crimes, Organized Crime, and Professional Standards.

Chief Smyth is known as someone who enjoys the challenge of new opportunities and embraces change wholeheartedly. He achieved a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1983, and then in 2006 received a Masters Degree in Organizational Management. 

Chief Smyth has also been a member of several professional organizations, including the Faculty of the University of Winnipeg where he taught as a member of the Criminal Justice Department. He was appointed and served as an Aide de Camp for the Lieutenant Governor Manitoba from 2010-2015.

Chief Smyth was born and raised in Winnipeg where he resides with his wife Cynthia and their two children. He was formally appointed Chief of Police on November 4th, 2016.