A CHANCE TO BUILD TRUST
Police chief on racism
We are in the midst of immensely challenging times. George Floyd’s death has sparked an outpouring of pain and protests that are raising important questions about policing both in the United States and here at home.
Had you asked me a few weeks ago whether systemic racism was a problem in Calgary and in the Calgary Police Service, I may have said no. But after weeks of hearing many stories, some very painful, about the prevalence of racism in our city and the experiences of people of colour, it’s clear there is much more work to be done.
Let me be clear, the Calgary Police Service does not tolerate racism. We do not tolerate police brutality or the intentional use of excessive force that is illegal, against our policies, or contrary to our values. I know that with few exceptions, all our officers and employees share this conviction and we work hard at dealing with those who do not.
However, we are still humans doing what can be an impossible job at times. Like all humans, we sometimes bring unconscious biases in to work despite our training and best efforts, and we make mistakes that fall short of expectations.
Canadian policing is built on the foundational principles of Sir Robert Peel. Our ability to perform our duties depends upon public approval of our actions. In Calgary, policing is something we do with our community, not to it.
Our officers and civilians understand the importance of building trust in our relationships with all Calgarians. Every interaction is an opportunity to either build trust, or to tear it down. We are committed to enhancing the trust we’ve built and making sure that we are working with the community to continuously improve. It is imperative that we confront situations where we have not met the expectations of the public so that we can learn and grow stronger.
I am extremely proud of the members of the Calgary Police Service. They work hard to serve our community with respect and compassion. As a community, we put them in some of the most challenging and dynamic situations imaginable and they almost always handle these situations with the highest level of professionalism.
I am also proud of the many community support programs we are involved in with our partners. For many years we have recognized that enforcement is not the solution to dealing with many of the societal issues that impact public safety or feelings of safety in our city. We have many programs and partnerships that deal with addictions, mental health issues, youth crime intervention, as well as strengthening community relations — especially with our diverse communities.
We know that there is always room to grow and these difficult conversations we are having provide us with an opportunity to collectively become even better. I assure you that we are listening attentively to the conversations about racism, use of force and police reform. We welcome these discussions with a view to evolving the strong policing model we have built with our communities here in Calgary.
Mark Neufeld is the chief constable of the Calgary Police Service.
We are still humans doing what can be an impossible job at times. We sometimes bring unconscious biases in to work despite our training and best efforts.