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Workplace review of Calgary police coming: oversight body

The Calgary Police Service will soon be undergoing a third-party review of its workplace, the police civilian oversight body said Wednesday afternoon.

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

She said the commission hasn’t seen the change they hoped previous efforts of reforming police workplace culture would produce, especially in areas of harassment and bullying, as measured by employee surveys.

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

The CPC chair said previous commissions publicly acknowledged issues in police workplace culture going back to 2011, and in 2016 started tracking how well employees felt bullying and harassment were being addressed. Eight years ago, the police commission also learned of a 2013 workplace audit whose recommendations were not fully implemented.

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“We recognize that it’s time for a more fulsome evaluation of whether the actions taken to date are creating the desired change,” Cornett said. “While the details still need to be worked out, we have decided to bring in an outside expert to conduct a current review or audit of the Calgary Police Service workplace. This review will aim to determine whether the work done so far is moving the workplace in the right direction, what issues persist, and what needs to be done differently to further address bullying, harassment and discrimination.”

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The police commission chair said the review would be done as transparently as possible, while also allowing CPS employees to be “confidentially candid”.

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“I want to share this decision so that (CPS) members of the service know that we hear their concerns and we are committed to addressing them,” Cornett said.

In late February, Angela Whitney, a former HR director at CPS from 2019 to 2021, went public with Global News to share concerns about harassment and bullying behaviour she saw there that ran counter to best practices in human resources.

On March 20, Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld filed a lawsuit against Whitney, claiming her comments “have caused, and will continue to cause irreparable harm to CPS.”

The lawsuit argues the disclosure of confidential information about employees “engaged in HR processes” will have a “chilling effect” on employees’ willingness to trust and participate in the HR process, “thereby interfering with CPS’ ability to continue and modernize the HR process.”

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None of the claims in the lawsuit have been tested in court, and a statement of defence has not yet been filed.

– with files from Adam MacVicar, Global News

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Former HR director alleges toxic work environment at Calgary Police Service in open letter

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