Someone should have told Chief Roger Chaffin that when you write a Facebook post in anger, the best thing to do is to sleep on it, reread it, and then press delete.
He didn’t do that unfortunately. His post – which you can read here – started off well enough. He was responding to the controversy over the 2013 workplace review, which revealed some shocking allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, bullying, intimidation and retribution within the Calgary Police Service.
The Chief began his open letter with a call to those that “feel they have been mistreated to find a way possible to reach out directly to me” so that they can “create a workplace that meets their expectations.” That’s a good sentiment. But then he lashed out at the officers who have gone public and “those in the political realm” that have spoken up, suggesting that they have nefarious intentions, that they are being inaccurate and irresponsible, and that they are politicizing the issue and doing a disservice to the organization.
The way I see it, people like former detective Marlene Hope, Constable Jenn Magnus and Ald Diane Colley-Urquhart are doing just the opposite. They’re trying to ensure that the problems this audit revealed don’t just get swept under the rug, downplayed or ignored. The Calgary Police Service has had years to address these concerns internally. Their failure to do so is the reason why, as a last resort, the officers did an access to information request for the report and went public.
Last month, RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson issued a tearful apology and settled a $100 million class action lawsuit for similar charges by women in the RCMP. Now former male RCMP officers have launched a suit on much the same grounds. Based on the auditor’s report and employee surveys that show low morale, there is every reason to believe the Calgary Police Service is at similar risk of legal action.
If the Chief is serious about rooting out the bad managers and officers in his organization and instilling modern, proper human resources protocols do deal consistently with internal problems, he should look at these revelations as an opportunity to make the changes and make them stick, with the full backing of the public and city council. Failure to do that would be the real disservice to the organization and the people it serves.