Retirement decision unrelated to police budget cuts: Clunis
Published Thursday, March 10, 2016 11:02AM CST
Last Updated Thursday, March 10, 2016 7:19PM CST
Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis has announced his retirement.
Chief Clunis says it’s a decision he’s been contemplating over the last year, and not one that has anything to do with the Winnipeg Police Service budget, set to be discussed at the Winnipeg Police Board meeting Friday.
At a media conference Thursday afternoon, Clunis said he’s confident he has accomplished what he set out to do, not only as chief over the past three-and-a-half years, but also as a 29-year member of the Winnipeg Police Service.
“I wanted to set an example for young people. So, when I think about my entire career, I feel absolutely fulfilled that I’ve accomplished that,” said Clunis.
Mayor Brian Bowman said Clunis’ decision came as a surprise during a Police Board meeting Thursday afternoon. He called Clunis a chief who made a difference.
“You are a leader, a leader who cares deeply about our city,” said Bowman.
Police board member Ross Eadie, who said he was not at Thursday’s meeting, told CTV News he thinks Clunis could be retiring over a potential loss of 80 officers and the whole cadet program. He said the possible layoffs come from a budget shortfall.
“Our pitch is $2.45 million more than what the budget committee has decided the police service is going to get,” said Eadie.
In response to whether the police board budget factored into Clunis’ decision to retire, the police chief replied: “Absolutely not.”
Scott Gillingham, chair of the police board, wouldn't confirm any possible layoffs.
“Coun. Eadie’s comments today were inaccurate, inappropriate and they were reckless," he said. "Today is about the chief of police and about thanking Chief Clunis for the excellent service that he’s provided to the city.”
In response to a possible budget shortfall for the police service, Mayor Brian Bowman said, “I think you can look at the preliminary budget as tabled, it proposed an increase of 6.32 per cent from last year's budget. That by most definitions is an increase, and not a cut.”
Bowman and Gillingham said any concerns around the budget would be addressed after Friday’s police board meeting.
Coun. Ross Eadie said he would bring a proposal to that meeting, to add an additional .048 per cent property tax increase to find the funds to avoid officer layoffs.
George Van Mackelbergh, vice president of the Winnipeg Police Association, said the Police Association is always concerned when talks of layoffs arise.
“I think there's always a problem when you look at a police service as a business model. There's no real cost recovery, there's no real profit, other than public safety.”
He called Clunis' retirement “a shame.”
Clunis was sworn in as chief on November 2, 2012. He has been a member of the Winnipeg Police Service for 29 years.
He said he wants to pursue new goals, continue to impact people in a positive way, and spend time with his wife.
Clunis will stay on as chief until someone new is selected to fill the roll.
Winnipeg Police Board Chair Scott Gillingham said the board will immediately begin the process of finding new police chief.
Winnipeg police chief Devon Clunis enters a news conference to announce his retirement on Thursday, March 10, 2016.