Chief of Police or Chief Apologist

The situations they face afford public figures the opportunity to define themselves.

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The Situation

Part I the Media Release

It started innocently enough with the following Media Release

November 29, 2016

Winnipeg Police Service Media Release
For Immediate Release

Update – Homicide Investigation – C14-266289

Male Arrested:

As previously released -On December 14, 2014, at approximately 6:30 a.m., Winnipeg Police Service members and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responded to the area of Selkirk Avenue and Charles Street for the report of a female having been stabbed.

An adult female, suffering from stab wounds, was located and transported to hospital in critical condition. She succumbed to her injuries.

The victim was identified as Angela Marie POORMAN, 29 years of Winnipeg.

The investigation continued by members of the Homicide Unit.

Investigators learned the victim met a male early that morning. An argument erupted between the two and the male suspect produced a large knife. The victim was stabbed multiple times before the male fled the area.

Due to the efforts of numerous WPS resources, some of which include: Uniform Patrol, Forensic Identification, Counter Exploitation Unit and Major Crimes, a suspect was identified and arrested.

On November 28, 2016, a charge of 2nd Degree Murder was authorized and an 18 year old male was arrested. The accused cannot be named as he was a youth at the time of the alleged offence.

He was remanded into custody.

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Part II, the press conference

In the subsequent news conference police spokesperson Jason Michalyshen expanded on the Media Release and added some additional information.

He stated in part:

“Their encounter on this one particular morning was essentially an agreement for sexual services for cash.”

“This agreement led to an argument specific to money and ultimately the accused in this matter allegedly produced a large knife and proceeded to strike or stab Ms. Poorman multiple times.”

Part III, the accusation

Enter Leslie Spillett the Director of Ka Ni Kanichihk and former members of the Winnipeg Police Board with the following comments:

“It framed Angela Poorman as a sex-trade worker, which had nothing to do with her murder.”

“Indigenous women are always characterized in such a negative way, which adds to their victimization.”

“Stop blaming Indigenous women for being murdered.”

Part IV, the Chief’s response

This was a defining moment for Chief Smyth.

Would he point out to Spillett that Poorman’s tragic death had everything to do with her being a sex trade worker and was a death that could have been prevented?  Would he make this a ‘teaching’ moment for Spillett, sex trade workers and indeed the public or would be veer off into political correctness?

Smyth choose the latter course, offering an apology to Spillett and the Indigenous community at large.

He then took it one step further and personally ‘spoke to’ (read reprimanded) the Public Information officer in question.

Part V, Conclusion

Chief Smyth has taken the first step to becoming the Chief Apologist and not the Chief of Police of the Winnipeg Police Service.

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