Few figures stand out as much as Robert Lunney in the pursuit of improved standards for, and quality of, police services. His quest for excellence in policing and public service throughout his more than 50-year career made a positive impact on three services and had an indirect influence on the policing community in Canada, the United States and abroad.
His police career began in 1953 with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in his hometown of Winnipeg. In 21 years with the RCMP, Mr. Lunney rose through the ranks to become a Superintendent.
Wanting a new challenge, Mr. Lunney was appointed Edmonton’s Chief of Police in 1974. He held this position until 1987 when he moved back to Winnipeg to become Commissioner of Protection, Parks and Culture. That position included responsibilities for police, fire, ambulance, parks and recreation, and cultural grants.
By 1990, he was ready to focus on his first love – policing. As Chief of Peel Regional Police (responsible for the cities of Brampton and Mississauga), he led Ontario’s second largest municipal police service for the next seven years until his retirement from active police duty.
The one constant theme in each of his leadership roles was meeting or exceeding quality standards set out by policing’s accrediting body, the U.S.-based Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. As the principal proponent of the accreditation movement in Canada, Mr. Lunney initiated the voluntary process at each police service he led and was gratified that all three services earned recognition.
That’s just one example of the honours his organizations have garnered under his leadership within policing circles and from proponents of continuous improvement. Peel Regional Police alone won: a Certificate of Merit (Quality-Government category) in the Canada Awards for Excellence competition sponsored by the Toronto-based National Quality Institute; the prestigious Webber Seavey Award for development of a comprehensive approach to child abuse from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (I.A.C.P.), the world’s oldest and largest non-profit professional organization of police executives; and the Herman Goldstein Award for Problem-Oriented Policing sponsored by the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
His commitment to advancing the field of policing, and the respect with which he is held by his peers, is evidenced by Mr. Lunney’s many individual appointments and awards.
He has served as President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Chairman of its Operations Research Committee and Chairman of the Canadian Police Research Centre. In 1995, he was the first Canadian to be honoured with PERF’s prestigious Leadership Award for his “dedication to creatively improving police practices and efforts that serve as a model for the rest of the police community.”
Mr. Lunney’s standing was underscored in 1996, when he was appointed the Canadian representative to I.A.C.P.’s Executive Committee.
Following his retirement from active police service in 1997, Mr. Lunney was a much sought-after consultant on various law enforcement projects in Canada and the U.S. For instance, Mr. Lunney co-authored the PERF publication, Racially Biased Policing, released in August 2001 and widely distributed in the United States.
His foreign experience includes contracts in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Israel and Jamaica. In September 2000, he became a consultant for Northern Ireland’s Office of the Oversight Commissioner for Police Reform. When the Commissioner’s mandate ended in May 2007, Mr. Lunney was engaged by the Northern Ireland Policing Board to develop a framework for monitoring policing with the community, a relationship that concluded in 2009.