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Councillor to take Calgary Police Service workplace concerns to justice minister ‘if need be’

Diane Colley-Urquhart. Global News

Following public scrutiny of a 2013 Calgary Police Service workplace review that uncovered over 60 complaints from CPS employees claiming they were subject to bullying, sexual harassment and intimidation, one city councillor is vowing to deal with the allegations and improve human resource practices.

But at least one police officer is leveling his own accusations against Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart.

“As a police commissioner and sitting on the governance committee, this is our job as an oversight role to ensure that this is dealt with and dealt with properly,” Colley-Urquhart told Global News Saturday.

“And if need be, we’ll talk to the minister of justice to see what our options are as a commission, to see if we need to further investigate what’s going on.”

A Global News request to Alberta Justice as to what those options might entail was not immediately answered Saturday afternoon.

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There are over 3,000 employees in the organization, including over 2,000 sworn police members and about 1,000 civilian staff. Colley-Urquhart said it’s important to note the people are City of Calgary employees.

“So it’s really important that they have the same human resource standards and practices around a respectful workplace as the rest of city employees do,” she said. “As the chief has said, just one example of bullying or fear of retribution, or not being able to see your career advance when you come back from having a baby—even one example of this is too many.”

Scroll down to read the full workplace review

Police Chief Roger Chaffin penned an open letter addressing the allegations in the review Thursday, saying the report has “left many of us at unease” and the allegations are not reflective of the thousands of service employees.

“Those in the political realm and those that may have once played a role in this organization need to be clear about their intentions and their facts,” Chaffin wrote. “Sharing information that is inaccurate is irresponsible. It does nothing to foster the public’s trust in our service and our officer’s trust in the workplace.”

Watch below: Complaints about a sexist and oppressive workplace have cast a very dark shadow over the police force. Allegations surfaced over the way women in the service are treated on the job. But now — in a rare move — female officers are coming forward in defence of the police. Jill Croteau reports.

Click to play video: 'Calgary’s female officers defend reputation of the force' Calgary’s female officers defend reputation of the force
Calgary’s female officers defend reputation of the force – Oct 27, 2016

Colley-Urquhart acknowledged the Police Act separates service members from the public to some extent, but suggested intervention by city staff was necessary to address the issues.

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“I’m really looking forward to Jeff Fielding, our city manager, to work with the police service, because the HR departments of these two entities need to be as one—and that’s the City of Calgary human resource department,” she said.

Global News has obtained a letter written by a 16-year-veteran of the Calgary Police Service who called Colley-Urquhart “completely out of touch with what is going on within our Service.”

“You are single-handedly creating morale issues within our department and undermining the public trust that we so covet and need as officers,” Staff Sgt. Darren Berglind wrote in the letter sent to the councillor. “I would prefer you support your Service and offer suggestions of improvement rather than spew inaccurate rhetoric.

“Forty allegations from 2,200 people, half of those allegations being not even remotely credible – that’s a tremendous statistic that we should be proud of.”

Berglind suggested Colley-Urquhart made public statements critical of Chaffin for political reasons and urged her to consider the big picture.

“Take yourself back to the reasons you first got into public service, and most importantly – INFORM YOURSELF before you make decisions and ridiculously inaccurate, totally opinionated, damaging public statements.”

Sources told Global News a number of police officers have written to the police commission and Colley-Urquhart expressing similar sentiments.

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The president of the Calgary Police Association previously told Global News workplace harassment is not widespread within the service, despite the report’s findings. Chaffin told Global News on Monday he’s continuing to move workplace reforms forward since taking over from former chief Rick Hanson in late 2015.

“We have a strong obligation to make sure that we have a fair and respectful workplace and that everybody feels safe in the workplace, so the issue is very serious,” he said.

Watch below: Allegations of bullying and sexual harassment within the Calgary Police Service are forcing some to ask difficult questions. A report from 2013 says over 60 officers and civilian employees complained about how they were treated by fellow employees and managers. Gary Bobrovitz has more.

Click to play video: 'Calgary police work to reform workplace culture after harassment claims' Calgary police work to reform workplace culture after harassment claims
Calgary police work to reform workplace culture after harassment claims – Oct 24, 2016

 

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