Calgary police receive 13 internal bullying, harassment complaints
Service to hire external investigator
By Jeff Cottrill
Health & Safety
(Canadian OH&S News) — A group of thirteen members of the Calgary Police Service (CPS) has filed complaints of bullying and harassment against their employer, according to a joint media statement that the officers sent out on Feb. 21.
Led by Constable Jen Magnus, who publicly resigned from the service after accusing colleagues of harassing behaviour in January, the group said in the statement that the CPS had “failed to provide a safe environment for certain employees, which has resulted in years of workplace bullying and harassment.”
At a police news conference on the morning of the 21st, videos of which were available in online media reports, CPS Chief Roger Chaffin told reporters that the employee complaints were “a really good opportunity for us” to address the alleged problem.
“I think it’s the first really big, positive development we’ve had in this story,” said Chief Chaffin. “To start working through specific allegations is a really good step for us to start to create the organization that we’re trying to here.”
He added that he had not yet seen the allegations or knew what the details were. “Until we see those complaints and start working through them, we’re kind of left in limbo,” he said. “So here’s a really good opportunity for us to get to the bottom of this.”
Les Kaminski, the president of the Calgary Police Association (CPA), told COHSN in an e-mailed response that while there had likely been “isolated incidents” of bullying and harassment within the CPS workplace, he did not believe that the problem was reflective of the entire police force.
“The vast majority of our members are exceptional individuals,” said Kaminski. “In my 30-plus years as a police officer in Calgary, the vast majority of the people I’ve worked around are kind, solid, sincere people who come to work every day and treat people with respect and dignity.”
He added that his intention was not to minimize the allegations that the 13 members had brought forward, “but what has been portrayed in the media is not reflective of the organization as a whole,” he said. “The inappropriate actions of a few members are not reflective of the professionalism and commitment of the majority of the men and women who proudly serve the citizens of Calgary.”
Kaminski said that all organizations have always had challenges and issues like this. “The difference is that now, in this day and age, these behaviours are recognized, revealed and are no longer tolerated,” he said. “It is no longer acceptable to simply ignore these actions. It is expected that you step up, take notice and stop these things from taking place.”
Chief Chaffin encouraged other CPS members who had experienced harassment on the job to come forward. “It’s not necessarily about how well the organization is moving along,” he said. “It’s really [about] those people who don’t have a voice, those people who haven’t been able to come forward.”
He added that the service was planning to hire an external investigator to look into the allegations, a move that was not unusual for the CPS.
“I think the next steps here,” he said, “we’re going to have to sit down and come to an agreed-upon person.”
Const. Jen Magnus, a 14-year veteran of the CPS, resigned from the force at a commission meeting on Jan. 31.