Your Winnipeg Police Board, part 1

Winnipeg’s shiny new police board met at city hall today, for what really was its first substantive gathering.

This post is the first of two just noting a few things that likely won’t make the news per se about today’s event.

As with most City Hall meetings, delegations can apply to speak. Today, David Sanders gave a lengthy and laudable presentation to the board.

Laudable, first, because he took the time to actually read the board’s draft policies and procedures in detail and point to a few items of concern.

The presentation, which he kindly sent to me afterwards, is below should you want to read it. And you should.

Among his concerns of note to the public are:

  • The tenor and stricture of the confidentiality agreement members have agreed to as a requirement to sit on the board [posted below in full].  It appears to present a number of challenges for board members in terms of whether they’re ever allowed to say anything, about anything, in relation to board business.

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This requires a correction. He actually points out the agreement is like one drafted by the city for a consultant being hired to do work.

“The second clause of the preamble is worded so as to muzzle the board members completely, and should be changed …”

  • Then there’s the whole issue of the board having separate sub-committees for finance and governance (Policy 3.8).

The draft policy manual appears to contain no provisions for these sub-boards — which will do important work — to have public oversight and meetings the public could attend.

Look folks, we’ve waited a good long time to have a police oversight body in Winnipeg that’s not either LERA or some watered-down city committee which was more informative and inquisitive about snowmobile bans than where our $240-million a year in policing dollars are going.

It’s solely my opinion — and it’s surely early days yet — but for our police board to not enjoy a great amount of honest and respectable interest and debate advanced by the public at large would be a major missed opportunity.

Part two of this post will focus on some thoughts and perceptions about the board, the meeting and its players.

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