The chair of the Winnipeg Police Board has resigned from that position.
Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo) told 680 CJOB Thursday afternoon that he’d be stepping down from his role as chair.
“I tendered my resignation,” said Klein.
“We’re in a very critical time with policing and community, especially given the recent events and the frustrations that are being felt on both sides.”
Klein’s resignation comes as the Winnipeg Police Service is under considerable scrutiny. Calls to defund the police — inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the criticism of police violence against communities of colour — are growing in the city.
Defunding the police is also something called for by organizers of last Friday’s #Justice4BlackLives rally in their petition, which included a number of demands directed at the city and province to prevent racial discrimination by law enforcement.
Klein described the city as ‘divided’ over the issue of police, and that problems between the police service and City Hall have made it impossible for him to do his job effectively.
“(I’ve) simply become the target for some politicians at City Hall, and I don’t think the board is able, effectively, to do their job either when we’re crossing those lines.
“This is not a time for games. We need to do something, we need to reach out to the community. We need to start making tangible changes and we need to start taking action.
“I didn’t think I could be a positive influence or think I could do what I wanted to do under those conditions.”
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said the board’s vice chair, deputy mayor and councilor from St. Norbert – Seine River, Markus Chambers, would be temporarily taking over the chair position.
Bowman thanked Klein for his service when asked about the resignation at an unrelated press briefing Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a challenging role to lead the Winnipeg Police Service Board,” he said.
“It’s no secret that that board in particular right now requires strong leadership, and so I accept his resignation.”
–With files from Shane Gibson