Winnipeg's new police chief, Devon Clunis
Winnipeg's new police chief, Devon Clunis

Jamaican makes history as Canada’s first Black police chief

By Admin Wednesday October 10 2012 in News
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When Devon Clunis applied to be a Winnipeg cop in 1987, his main aim was to crack the stereotype that police cruisers’ backseats are reserved for Blacks. He also thought the job would help him become a role model for his young nephews.


Clunis was thrilled to be accepted, but never in his wildest dreams did the Jamaican-born expect to rise to the top of the service and make history as Canada’s first Black police chief.


“I applied to become a police officer simply because I wanted to make a difference,” said Clunis who migrated from Jamaica at age 12. “I am passionate about the City of Winnipeg and over the course of my career, I have been given great opportunities to help lead the organization…I applied for the chief position because I thought it was really important that the person taking over should have a great understanding of our organization and the city instead of just simply wanting to be chief…Every position for which I have applied was done simply because I felt there was a need to serve the organization and our citizens.”


Winnipeg’s chief administrative officer, Phil Sheegl, said Clunis emerged as the city 17th police chief after a nation-wide search, comprehensive screening and thorough interview process.


“He’s a person of strong leadership credentials, great dedication to building a very strong team and he has a real love for the city,” said Sheegl. “I know that his vision, experience, relationship-building skills and strategic thinking will enable the service to help make Winnipeg an even better place to live.”


Mayor Sam Katz said Clunis has shown uncompromising character as a member of the Winnipeg Police Service.


“I welcome his appointment to this very important role,” he added.


Clunis, 48, has served in all areas of the service, including uniform patrol, traffic, plainclothes investigation, community relations, organizational development and city-wide operational command. As superintendent, he’s currently overseeing the service’s development support branch that encompasses four divisions.


The new chief, who will be sworn in before year end, assumes the high-ranking role at a time when his service is undergoing a city-ordered budget review, police face extraordinary civilian oversight and Winnipeg leads all Canadian cities with the highest homicide rate for the fifth straight year.


Afro-Caribbean Association of Manitoba president, Jim Gunnoiki, is confident that Clunis will do a good job.


“He’s community-oriented, very experienced and qualified for the role,” Gunnoiki told Share. “I have no doubt that he and his team will be successful in effectively policing the city and building new relationships.”


Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) founding president, David Mitchell, welcomed the appointment.


“In the 20-year history of ABLE, I have seen significant change as Black officers attain leadership positions in law enforcement agencies,” said Mitchell, the regional director in the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. “It is truly inspirational to see that the office of Chief of Police in this country is beginning to be reflective of the diversity that makes up Canada. While we are delighted and inspired by Devon’s achievement, we continue to monitor the glacial pace of progress that Black women in law enforcement appear to be making in municipal, provincial and federal agencies.”


Clunis, who holds a degree in Divinity, has been the service’s chaplain for the past 14 years. He is completing studies at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels.



  • Shez Johnson said:

    I am so proud to know that, one of our own has risen to the top of an organization. This really demonstrates how far we as a people and a nation have come, in terms of of our changing mindset. I congratulate Mr. Clunis and wish him nothing but a wealth success and prosperity in his new position as chief of police.

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    Friday October 12 at 10:36 pm
  • Verna Adams said:

    It is with a deep sense of pride that I am writing this comment. I congratulate Mr. Clunis on this prestigious appointment. I wish him much success and I am confident that he will do an excellent job. Jamaicans everywhere should be very proud of another son of the soil rising to great heights.

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    Sunday October 14 at 7:52 am
  • Larry Bailey said:

    I am proud to have been one of Devon Clunis’ co-workers & training Officers who has guided him along the way. I wish him the best and it should not be a matter of his color as the foremetioned seem to refer as “one of our own” I am white and I am very proud of him also.

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    Friday October 19 at 9:57 am
  • Barbara Thompson said:

    Outstanding appointment!! That’s Winnipeg! Devon Clunis was always passionate about making a difference for youth and others through focusing on crime prevention at the very earliest point. He was, for example, one of the most dedicated volunteers of the Black Youth Helpline in Manitoba, working alongside many of his peers in the police service. Tirelessly Devon gave of his volunteer time to prevention work in schools. He made a huge difference then and will undoubtedly make a difference in this role!!! So very proud of his accomplishment and of the City of Winnipeg on making such a well deserved appointment.

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    Tuesday November 27 at 11:38 pm
  • Mira Perko said:

    We are so pleased that a young man was able to achieve his dream! Congratulations! Jamaica is my family’s second home and we have many friends there! We tell our friends in Jamaica that if you work hard, and love and respect your fellow man as well as God – everything in life is possible!

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    Friday January 11 at 8:21 pm
  • fdujs said:

    Black people rock

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    Tuesday February 19 at 8:10 pm
  • Mambolo said:

    We have been made so confused. Here we have a man who is doing his best to assimilate himself and others into the camp of the slavemaster’s children for personal benefits, a camp owned and operated by those who contributed to the destruction of his ancestral home. Talk about the power of brain washing.
    In sharp and complete contrast Laszlo Csatary, 98 years old was hunted, captured and charged by Israel for crimes he committed during the reign of Hitler in Germany. What did we do, we established the truth & reconciliation committee.
    These Jamaicans are really Jamaicans, even the prime minister extended a warm welcome to the grandson of Queen Elizabeth who robbed, raped and murdered our people in Jamaica. Paul Bogle, Queen Nanny and thousands more must have turned in their graves. Would the Israelis welcome Hitler’s grandson in Israel? Never.
    For many, their brainwashing is complete; they are now totally domesticated. In Afrika 1884 General H. S. Sanford was the man with the gun and Livingstone had the Bible. Today their job is complete as they now have us with the gun and the Bible as well enforcing and preaching their doctrine. The new chief does this because he has no doctrine, it was wiped out by those he now serve.
    As some of you heap praises on the first black police chief, I wonder what the First Nations of Canada would say about those whose policies he now swears to uphold.

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    Friday June 21 at 7:32 am

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