‘It is about all of us as a community’: Manitoba looks to create new strategy to train police

The province is looking to create a new strategy when it comes to police training in Manitoba.

On Wednesday, Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced a plan to create a new ‘public safety training strategy’ to provide a unified training curriculum for police and peace officers.

“Currently we don’t have a province-wide consistency when it comes to training, with many of our police officers and peace officers having to be trained elsewhere in Canada,” Goertzen said.

“That doesn’t mean those individual officers aren’t well trained and aren’t great officers in their own right. It just means we need to ensure that we get to a unified standard.”

To do that, the province contracted former Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis – the founder of Clunis Consulting – to help create a steering committee to develop the strategy.

Clunis, who is co-chairing the committee along with former Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Ron Evans, said this is not just about police.

“It is about all of us as a community,” he said, adding he hopes this process can help rebuild relationships between the police and the community.

The 15-member committee is set to include several members of police services in Manitoba including the RCMP and the Manitoba First Nations Police Service, as well as community advocates and academics in criminology and indigenous studies.

Also on the committee is the Police Accountability Coalition – a group that has previously pushed for police funding reform and the removal of officers in schools.

Clunis said the committee will pull together a wide range of input.

“Even individuals who people would say might be detractors. I don’t consider them to be detractors. I believe they are pointing out things to us that are really critically important for us to build a public safety training strategy that will serve every single member of our community moving forward,” Clunis said.

Goertzen said this will help when it comes to facilitating initiatives including getting peace officers on Winnipeg buses.

“When you look at the transit unit and what is happening on our buses and the desire for people using public transit to feel safe – that means that we need to have other individuals available to do that sort of work,” Goertzen said. “But they have to be properly trained, they have to be equally trained, they have to be appropriately trained.”

The province says over the next several months committee members will be meeting in smaller groups and consulting with communities to develop the strategy. 

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