The chair of the Winnipeg Police Board has resigned.
Coun. Kevin Klein says it was a tough decision to make and a true honour to serve as the chair, but it was time to walk away.
Klein was appointed to the position in November 2018 by Mayor Brian Bowman.
The councillor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood frequently clashed with Bowman over a number of issues.
“I don’t want to make this a personal battle,” Klein told CBC News, but said both Bowman and senior city staff were involved in initiatives or decisions that he says were clearly the role of the police board.
“There were financial discussions that really were the board’s area of concern. Governance and financials that involve the board, we’d hear about it second-hand, after maybe the administration has already spoken to the [Police] Service,” Klein said.
Mayor Brian Bowman thanked Klein for his time as chair, but wasted little time on sentiment or praise.
“That board needs strong leadership, so I accepted his resignation,” Bowman told reporters Thursday.
It was “no secret Coun. Klein found the role of police board chair challenging,” Bowman said, pointing to a recent board member survey on his performance that received an “unsatisfactory grade.”
“I think that was noticed — that the board itself was not satisfied by the leadership that was provided.”
Klein shot back that Bowman was “struggling to find an answer to make it look like it didn’t involve him or the civic administration.”
He says the survey was not filled out by all members of the board and members of the city’s administration also participated in it.
“I stand by the relationships I have with many of those board members. I’m not challenged by a grade and I didn’t question it when it came out,” Klein said.
The same survey also gave poor grades for the board’s working relationship with the City of Winnipeg, and with city council and its standing policy committees.
Klein says the board needs to operate with more distance from the political and administrative leadership at city hall.
“I think the Winnipeg Police Board needs to have some more autonomy. It’s held accountable for issues that it doesn’t have the responsibility for,” Klein said.
The role of board chair will be taken up by its vice-chair, Coun. Markus Chambers (St. Norbert-Seine River), on an interim basis.
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