WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Police Service is taking steps to combat systemic racism and discrimination within the ranks.

Police Chief Danny Smyth issued a statement on Feb. 12, saying that systemic racism is a real issue that exists in all institutions, including the police.

“I have acknowledged that the police in Winnipeg have not always been on the right path,” he said.

“That our past actions and procedures have contributed to harming racialized people, particularly the Indigenous people in our community.”

Smyth goes on to mention community engagement and the police service’s partnerships with grassroots organizations from the Indigenous, Muslim and newcomer communities.

“This is the kind of community engagement I see as important,” he said.

“Partnering with and supporting groups like this is the true essence of crime prevention through social development. These efforts will help break through the social barriers that left unaddressed can lead to harm.”

Smyth said he is committed to working with and supporting service providers in the Indigenous, Muslim and newcomer communities.

He vowed to make sure the police service reflects the needs and expectations of the community through the following steps:

  • Continued recruitment to make sure the police service reflects the diversity of the community;
  • Continued partnership and support of Indigenous, Muslim and newcomer service providers;
  • Continued training and education so that police members understand the generational trauma of people who have experienced colonization and people who have been displaced through immigration or refugee status;
  • Staying accountable for the actions they take as a police service.

“We are not perfect, and we will make mistakes, but we are on the right path to combat racism,” Smyth said.

This statement comes less than a month after Manitoba’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigation Unit, cleared an officer on charges in the fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Eishia Hudson.