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Workplace conditions at Calgary Police Service to undergo third-party audit, oversight body says

A third-party review of workplace conditions inside the city’s police department is on the way, according to the chair of the Calgary Police Commission, following recent public complaints made by the force’s former director of human resources.

Shawn Cornett made the announcement Wednesday at a public meeting of the police department’s oversight body, saying the review comes after recent months of discussion.

She said progress has been made over the past decade to address bullying and harassment — noting “extensive” efforts to create a respectful workplace — but the work isn’t complete.

“While a lot of work has been done, we also know that problems persist,” Cornett said.

“When we look at the employee surveys, we have not seen the change we hoped when it comes to employees’ trust that harassment and bullying, including gender-based harassment, is being addressed properly.

“The recent public allegations made by a former employee also raised serious concerns.”

Cornett was making reference to public complaints made by a former human resources director at the Calgary Police Service (CPS).

Angela Whitney, who worked with CPS from 2019 until her resignation in 2021, has alleged the service was “rife with harassment, bullying and discrimination.”

CPS has filed a lawsuit against Whitney, asking a judge to force her to remove “inappropriate social media posts” that, according to the statement of claim, “divulge confidential information about the CPS and its employees.”

Cornett told reporters the commission had been discussing the need to go back and look at the culture of the police department, noting previous reviews over the past decade.

In 2016, for instance, a previous iteration of the police commission publicly directed the police chief to implement the recommendations of a review aimed at addressing bullying and harassment.

She said the commission had not yet received a formal complaint from Whitney, but Cornett added that her public concerns “helped add to that conversation that we were having.”

The chair said the commission now has to determine who will conduct the audit and then put a framework in place for the process, which will look into what’s been done, what’s working, what isn’t, and where there are gaps.

“We are all passionate about the fact that this can’t take forever,” Cornett added, adding she hopes the work could be completed within six months to a year.

In the meantime, she said work in those areas within the department should continue.

Police Chief Mark Neufeld said the department will co-operate fully with the review.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

“I’m hopeful there are some insights to say you need to adjust here or put some extra emphasis there. I think all of that is really good. But in the meantime, I feel like we know what we need to do. We’re on the path, and we’ll keep doing it.

“That is not to say it’s perfect. I think any review of any workplace would find that there are imperfections and there’s challenges and issues — and I think more than ever these days.”

Neufeld said the police service wants to make sure it has “a safe, respectful and inclusive environment.”

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