Manitoba Chiefs concerned that former officer is leading police complaints agency

By The Canadian Press and News Staff

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it’s deeply concerned about the recent appointment of a former Winnipeg detective to head Manitoba’s police complaints agency.

The province recently appointed Harmen Wouda to lead the Law Enforcement Review Agency, the public body that looks into complaints about the conduct of municipal officers.

The chiefs’ say the move raises questions about the independence and impartiality of the agency.

“As First Nations, we need to ensure that the process for investigations is fair and impartial for those that want to come forward with a complaint,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick in a news release.

The AMC wants Manitoba to enact legislation that would ban the hiring of former police officers to lead such agencies.

“Oversight agencies should be led by individuals who embody diverse perspectives and experiences,” Merrick said. “Appointing individuals with extensive law enforcement backgrounds will absolutely perpetuate biases, create inherent conflicts of interest, and significantly undermine the integrity and credibility of the oversight process.”

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