City Councillor Ward Sutherland said his fellow police commissioner’s lack of consultation on potential changes to the Calgary Police Service in the wake of a workplace review alleging harassment was “not appropriate.”
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Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart said Saturday she was excited about city staff working to harmonize the HR departments of the two organizations.
“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.
But Sutherland said he was disappointed with the comments she made to Global News, adding Fielding was not in favour of the idea.
“I have talked directly to Jeff Fielding, the city manager,” Sutherland told Global News Sunday. “There was no consultation by that councillor with him at all. Zero.
“She’s part of the commission, so why isn’t she bringing up the HR idea first of all with the city manager, with council and with the commission?”
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.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi weighed in on the controversy Saturday, telling the Calgary Herald the issue is something the commission should be discussing. He added “if you don’t want to discuss it with the commission, discuss it with the mayor – don’t let the mayor read about it in the newspaper.” The mayor’s office said Nenshi was not available for a Global News interview Sunday.
Sutherland also questioned whether any evidence showed HR practices were the core issue in the workplace controversy and suggested it was premature to judge. He said he recently received information from someone who participated in the 2013 report, who described the survey as “directly looking for unhappy people.”
“They were looking for people that wanted to file complaints, which is totally fine,” Sutherland said. “It was just accumulating complaints; that was the consultant’s job. So I guarantee if we did that for the City of Calgary and all our employees, we’d have similar issues.”
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.
Sutherland said he’s been getting calls and emails from officers saying problems aren’t system-wide and that the negative media attention is hurting morale in the force.
Global News obtained a letter written by a 16-year-veteran of the CPS Saturday that echoed the concerns Sutherland said he’d heard.
Staff Sgt. Darren Berglind called Colley-Urquhart “completely out of touch with what is going on within our Service” and suggested she was “creating morale issues within our department and undermining the public trust that we so covet and need as officers” in the letter sent to her. Berglind declined an interview with Global News Sunday.
Colley-Urquhart said Saturday that if needed, the police commission would “talk to the minister of justice…to see if we need to further investigate” the CPS practices. Those comments also didn’t sit well with Sutherland.
“So, basically you’re saying that the commission might as well not be there, then,” he said. “Our job is oversight and to investigate and we’re committed to doing so.”
Sutherland said the commission includes professionals with HR, accounting, intelligence, IT, social and governance backgrounds, along with three lawyers who specialize in different areas. He said a commission made up of these skill sets is able to give the proper oversight on the issues that came to light in the survey.
“No one’s disagreeing with the report. No one’s saying this isn’t serious. We’re all saying it’s going to be addressed and it’s going to be followed up on a monthly basis, publicly, at the commission meeting.”
Colley-Urquhart did not respond to a Global News request for comment Sunday.
With an interview from Global’s Tracy Nagai