Calgary Top Cop On The Defensive, Again, After Damning 2013 Workplace Review Surfaces

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Calgary's police chief is on the defensive after a three-year-old workplace review has surfaced showing a culture of bullying, harassment, intimidation and retaliation.

The 29-page redacted document outlines a police service that some viewed as an "Old Boys Network," including interviews which revealed instances of workplace bullying and harassment involving men and women.

"Some of the women interviewed reported that over their career they had … '1,000 stab wounds' from workplace interactions," the review notes.

"Both men and women reported they did not bring these concerns forward in any formal way because the culture is one of intimidation and retaliation, therefore, it was perceived to be unsafe in terms of career to do so."

calgary police
Calgary police officers patrol the streets downtown during the 2012 Calgary Stampede parade. (Photo:Todd Korol/Reuters)

Chief Roger Chaffin, who took over as chief after the period reviewed, said he needs to hear formal complaints about officer misconduct within the service before he can act on them.

"One employee is too many," Chaffin told reporters on a break from the Calgary Police Commission public meeting Tuesday afternoon.

He says officers need to be able to reach out for help if they need it.

"If someone's having a bad experience and wants help and doesn't feel like they have a voice and feel intimidated, then that's a problem and that's on me and our senior staff to find a way to make sure we make a more trusted environment."

Chaffin says old attitudes and old police culture are likely still lingering when it comes to female officers, and need addressing.

"You can't address problems, you can't fix things, you can't get at the root of things if you don't have the information."

"You can't address problems, you can't fix things, you can't get at the root of things if you don't have the information," the chief said.

The chair of Calgary's police commission, Howie Shikaze, says they'll continue to hold the police to account.

"We've set up a reporting structure for the CPS to the commission so we can keep an eye on the progress," Shikaze said.

"It is a very high priority for the commission to monitor this."

Shikaze says new systems and processes should make it easier for officers to report misconduct going forward.


Troubling times for Calgary police

The release of the 2013 review, comes at a difficult time for the Calgary police after a series of police-involved shootings — some fatal — and questions from the public over use of force.

Earlier this month a police officer shot and killed a 76-year-old grandfather, armed with a "large-edged weapon."

A neighbour called the man "the nicest guy ever."

Chaffin addressed the incident at the time.

"It's been a difficult year. We have had some difficult situations," he said.

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