‘Change agent’ sought in hunt for next Cal­gary chief

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - YOLANDE COLE [email protected]­media.com

As the Cal­gary po­lice com­mis­sion sets its sights on find­ing a new chief, one lo­cal ex­pert ex­pects the suc­cess­ful can­di­date will be a “change agent” who will be tasked with “try­ing to right the ship” in key ar­eas iden­ti­fied by the civil­ian over­sight body.

“My ex­pec­ta­tion is … they’re go­ing to be look­ing for some­one that has demon­strated in their or­ga­ni­za­tion that they are in cur­rently or re­cently that they are agents of change, that they can ar­tic­u­late a di­rec­tion for the fu­ture and have demon­strated that they have the lead­er­ship skills to be that kind of per­son,” said Doug King, a pro­fes­sor of jus­tice stud­ies at Mount Royal Uni­ver­sity.

Chief Roger Chaf­fin an­nounced in July that he planned to re­tire, three years into a five-year con­tract, cit­ing per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rea­sons. He is ex­pected to step down in Jan­uary.

A Cal­gary po­lice com­mis­sion in­vi­ta­tion for pro­pos­als from ex­ec­u­tive search firms in­ter­ested in part­ner­ing with the com­mis­sion and its search com­mit­tee closed Sept. 14. An in­terim chief is ex­pected to over­see the po­lice ser­vice if a new chief isn’t se­lected by the time Chaf­fin leaves.

Chair Brian Thiessen said the com­mis­sion is look­ing for a “mod­ern leader” who has worked with di­verse com­mu­ni­ties and is “open and un­der­stand­ing ” of the di­ver­sity in the com­mu­nity. The suc­cess­ful can­di­date will also be ex­pected to value com­mu­nity polic­ing and to pur­sue on­go­ing work in­tended to im­prove the ser­vice, in­clud­ing work­place re­forms and im­ple­ment­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from a re­cent use-of-force re­port.

“The new chief would need to ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cate a vi­sion, pri­or­i­ties and poli­cies to the CPS that cre­ate trust and a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment,” Thiessen said.

“And in­cluded in that is morale con­cerns that ser­vice mem­bers have ex­pressed. So a leader that can ad­dress those and cre­ate a com­mit­ment among ser­vice mem­bers to the changes that the public are look­ing for, I think is re­ally im­por­tant.”

Claims of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, bul­ly­ing and in­tim­i­da­tion de­tailed in a 2013 in­ter­nal re­view of the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice emerged in Oc­to­ber 2016. The ser­vice has since made reg­u­lar re­ports to the po­lice com­mis­sion on steps to ad­dress work­place con­cerns and gen­der eq­uity is­sues.

For­mer Cal­gary po­lice con­sta­ble Jen Mag­nus, who re­signed from the ser­vice af­ter go­ing public with con­cerns about bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment, said the new po­lice chief needs “to bring in new hope.”

“Hope­fully they look at some­one from the ex­te­rior, out­side of the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice, to bring that change,” Mag­nus said.

She added that when Chris­tine Sil­ver­berg was named chief in 1995, be­com­ing the first fe­male po­lice chief of a ma­jor Cana­dian city, it led to a shakeup in the se­nior ranks of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“I’m hope­ful that that’s what will hap­pen with the new chief that comes in,” Mag­nus said.

King said Chaf­fin’s suc­ces­sor doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily need to come from out­side the po­lice ser­vice. But the prob­lem with pick­ing an in­ter­nal can­di­date, he added, “is how quickly can they di­vorce them­selves from the lead­er­ship cul­ture that’s been within the po­lice ser­vice now?”

King ’s other con­cern is that the pool of ap­pli­cants could con­sist of of­fi­cers “who are just go­ing to repli­cate polic­ing as it’s been done for 20 years.”

“Polic­ing needs to move into the 21st cen­tury and en­gage in par­tic­i­pa­tory man­age­ment and par­tic­i­pa­tory lead­er­ship and all of that, and I’m not so sure there’s a po­lice chief can­di­date avail­able in the (in­ter­nal) pool to do that,” King said. “And that’s the kind of thing I re­ally worry about — (that) we’re just go­ing to fall into the same old, same old.”

Dur­ing a re­cent Cal­gary con­fer­ence on women in polic­ing, Al­berta Jus­tice Min­is­ter and So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Kath­leen Gan­ley said she hopes to see more women as po­lice chiefs.

“One of the most im­por­tant things we can do as we move for­ward, not just in polic­ing but in all lead­er­ship roles, (is) to ac­knowl­edge that we don’t see women in those lead­er­ship roles not be­cause there are no qual­i­fied women, it’s be­cause we haven’t taken the steps to al­low those women to ad­vance,” Gan­ley said.

Thiessen said the po­lice com­mis­sion has con­tin­u­ally en­cour­aged the ser­vice to men­tor and move women up the ranks. He echoed Gan­ley’s en­cour­age­ment of women to ap­ply for se­nior po­si­tions.

“If there are fe­male of­fi­cers that feel they’re at the age and stage and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to serve as chief, I strongly en­cour­age them to ap­ply,” Thiessen said.

“I think it’s in­con­tro­vert­ible that the more that women par­tic­i­pate at se­nior ranks in po­lice ser­vices, in­clud­ing CPS, the bet­ter bal­anced our ser­vice will be — and di­verse can­di­dates, not just women, but women from all di­verse back­grounds. I think we need to re­flect the com­mu­nity that the ser­vice serves, and I hope they’ll ap­ply.”

Who­ever does make it through the se­lec­tion pro­cess to take the helm of the lo­cal po­lice ser­vice faces a unique op­por­tu­nity, King said.

“Be­cause what they can pos­si­bly do is trans­form an old-fash­ioned or­ga­ni­za­tion into a state-of-theart, cur­rent, new kind of polic­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said.

Cal­gary had the same op­por­tu­nity when Brian Sawyer, a for­mer RCMP su­per­in­ten­dent, be­came chief in 1973, King said.

“He trans­formed not just polic­ing in Cal­gary, but he trans­formed polic­ing across Canada by in­tro­duc­ing com­mu­nity polic­ing. That is pos­si­ble if they hire the right per­son.”

Sawyer, who served un­til 1984, is of­ten cred­ited with tak­ing the force into the mod­ern era of polic­ing, cre­at­ing crime-preven­tion units, estab­lish­ing zone polic­ing, in­sti­tut­ing school re­source of­fi­cers and cre­at­ing neigh­bour­hood watch pro­grams. He died in 2012 at the age of 82.

Thiessen said the com­mis­sion is try­ing to move through the hir­ing pro­cess quickly, start­ing with the se­lec­tion of an ex­ec­u­tive search firm, some form of public con­sul­ta­tion and a job post­ing for the chief.

The search for a new Cal­gary chief comes at the same time as Ed­mon­ton po­lice and RCMP’s K Di­vi­sion are also fac­ing the loss of top of­fi­cers. But Cal­gary “stacks up re­ally well in a com­pe­ti­tion,” Thiessen said.

“I ex­pect you’ll see some cross­over, where peo­ple who were con­sid­er­ing ap­ply­ing or ap­plied for other ju­ris­dic­tions say­ing Cal­gary would be my No. 1 choice.”

Hope­fully they look at some­one from the ex­te­rior, out­side of the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice, to bring …change.


Cal­gary po­lice Chief Roger Chaf­fin an­nounced in July that he was re­tir­ing for per­sonal and pro­fes­sional rea­sons.


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