October 23, 2012
Pray for crime rates: Winnipeg's new police chief
By Kevin Engstrom,QMI Agency
WINNIPEG -- Prayer is part of the answer to Winnipeg's persistent crime woes, says the city's new police chief.
Devon Clunis, a police chaplain and Christian who will formally become chief next month, said the city's ongoing problems with violent crime could be partially solved if Winnipeggers simply prayed more.
"I'm a little tired of us ... being the murder capital of Canada. People consistently say, 'How are you going to solve that?' It's not simply going to be because we're going to go out there and police it away. I truly believe that prayer will be a significant piece of that," Clunis told Christian Week News.
"What would happen if we all just truly -- I'm talking about all religious stripes here -- started praying for the peace of this city and then actually started putting some action behind that? I believe something phenomenal is going to happen in our city. I truly believe it's coming. I don't think I've arrived at this position just by chance."
Clunis, a 25-year veteran of the Winnipeg Police Service, suggested a higher power had a role to play in his ascension to the chief's chair.
"I believe without a shadow of a doubt the only reason that I am in this position is because God is involved in it," Clunis is quoted as saying. "Without a shadow of a doubt."
Clunis declined an interview request from QMI Agency on Tuesday.
Arthur Schafer, director of the University of Manitoba's ethics centre, said the new chief seemed to be talking about treating everyone with respect and dignity, which is laudable. Publicly discussing the importance of religion as the chief of police crossed a line, though.
"He should not go around using his bully pulpit as the chief of police to promote his faith because his officers may find that coercive and some members of the public may find it offensive," said Schafer.
NDP MP Pat Martin, who represents crime-plagued Winnipeg North, said the power of prayer alone will not prevent crime any more than it will help to levitate the Public Safety Building. Having said that, Martin found the new chief's words to be "interesting and refreshing."
"Prayer is reflection, and there is a role for thoughtful reflection of one's actions," said Martin, over the phone from his office in Ottawa. "Personally, I like the guy."
Mayor Sam Katz could not be reached for comment. Neither could Paula Havixbeck, chair of the city's protection committee, which oversees the Winnipeg Police Service.