Mayor Scott Gillingham announced today that Robert (Bob) Chrismas has been hired to lead the City’s new Community Safety Team, which is expected to launch later this year with an initial focus on the Winnipeg Transit system.
Chrismas brings more than 35 years of public safety experience to this new role and is well known for his expertise in collaborative community engagement, conflict analysis, and resolution.
“We need our public spaces to be safe for all Winnipeggers,” said Gillingham. “Given his track record of compassionate leadership, Bob Chrismas is a great choice to guide this service and build a culture that balances enforcement with genuine care for those in crisis.”
Chrismas holds a Doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies and a Master's degree in Public Administration. He has written extensively on community safety issues ranging from first responder mental health to sex trafficking, reconciliation, and policing. He has also volunteered with numerous community organizations, including eight years on the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council.
Chrismas has had a diverse career with the Winnipeg Police Service, half in uniform and half in various detective units. For much of the past 13 years as a Staff Sergeant, he has provided real-time command of frontline police operations for the City.
In his new capacity, Chrismas will spearhead the establishment of the Community Safety Team. Recognizing the role of mental health and addiction in many transit safety incidents, officers will be trained in self-defense, security, and de-escalation techniques, ensuring empathetic responses to those undergoing a mental health crisis. The service will seek to fill the systemic gaps, bringing trauma-informed support to individuals in need while improving public safety.
“I recognize the tremendous challenges that our community is facing right now with mental health, addiction, and homelessness, but also respect that our staff and residents need to feel safe when using public services such as Winnipeg Transit,” said Chrismas. “I plan to draw on all of my training, education and experience to shape this new team, and I will do my utmost to ensure we deliver a safety model that acts with care and compassion, while making noticeable differences for the residents of Winnipeg.”
“There’s an urgent need to improve safety on our transit system, and I’m confident the new Community Safety Team will make a big difference for our passengers and drivers,” said Councillor Janice Lukes, Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Public Works. “I’m eager to get our first class of recruits into the classroom and onto our buses as soon as possible.”
Bob Chrismas officially commences his role on September 25, 2023.