Manitoba

Manitoba policing review will give more teeth to oversight bodies

The Manitoba government is studying 70 recommendations to improve policing and the civilian oversight body, justice minister Cliff Cullen said on Thursday. 

Long-awaited review of the Police Services Act will be released later this year.

Manitoba's justice department is teasing stronger powers for police accountability measures. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

The Manitoba government is studying 70 recommendations to improve policing and the civilian oversight body, justice minister Cliff Cullen said on Thursday. 

He anticipates the final report will focus on oversight and accountability reforms, guidance on new policing standards, enhancing civilian governance, as well as improving public safety services and community well-being, Cullen told a conference call with reporters.

He said the public will learn more when the long-awaited review of the Police Services Act is released later this year.

"It is important to stress that this is the beginning of a considerable amount of work that will involve significant research and further consultations with our police agencies, municipalities, Indigenous leaders and an array of other groups," the justice minister told reporters.

"With this review, we will have a road map for where we need to go to modernize police services in our province and the legislation that governs policing."

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says an external review into the Police Services Act will be released later this year. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Cullen wouldn't get into specific details of the proposed recommendations, including whether numerous protests demanding police reforms played any role in the report. He acknowledged the calls to reform — or dismantle — police forces have been growing louder.

"Obviously, that's been a public discussion for sure," he said. "I will say public safety is paramount for us as a government, and we will continue to make sure that public safety is first and foremost."

More bite for IIU

He also said on Thursday the government would strive to introduce new legislation to strengthen the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, the civilian oversight agency that investigates serious incidents involving police, next year.

During a spat last year when policing authorities questioned whether Manitoba's police watchdog had the right to demand cadet notes, Cullen said the Police Services Act legislation has "some holes in it."

The justice minister previously said the external review, conducted every five years, would be tabled this spring, but he noted Thursday the pandemic has prompted delays. 

The review is being led by the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance, a Saskatchewan-based non-profit that focuses on community safety. 

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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