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Calgary Police Service

Police Reform

Calgary Police Service Police Reform

We are constantly improving and are sometimes given recommendations or direction on things we need to change to better meet the public’s expectations.

Our progress on various reform or improvement efforts is outlined below.

Anti-Racism Reforms

The Black Lives Matter movement that followed Minneapolis police killing George Floyd in May 2020 demonstrated that more focus is needed on the issues of racism and inequities within our city.

While we know that our officers and civilian employees strive everyday to treat people according to our values, we acknowledge that structural racism still exists in our Service.

In September of 2020, we committed to the Calgary Police Commission, City Council and the public that we would take 11 immediate steps to address issues of systemic racism.

More Information: Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

Misconduct Investigation Reforms

In October 2018, the Law Enforcement Review Board released the Arkinstall Public Inquiry with 20 recommendations for reforming how we investigate misconduct allegations. The report was the result of a public inquiry into how we investigated a complaint regarding an arrest in 2008. 

Full Report: Arkinstall Inquiry Report: A call for change in Alberta’s Approach to Police Oversight

Recommendation 1

CPS should ensure fulsome training for all professional standards investigators and personnel in order to ensure high-quality, thorough investigation of complaints. This recommendation also applies to all police services that are subject to Part 5 of the Police Act.

STATUS: In process

DETAILS:

  • Developed and delivered training seminars to our Professional Standards Section (PSS) detectives using content from numerous stakeholders. The Public Complaints Director audited training. 
  • Provided PSS employees with training and certification in risk management and structured professional judgement. This training supports a risk-based triage and a structured professional judgement approach to ensure all complaints are resourced and prioritized appropriately.
  • Developed comprehensive onboarding training for all new PSS employees that equips them with the knowledge and skills to conduct thorough and impartial misconduct investigations.
  • Championed the need for a provincial training standard for PSS investigators. We are now part of a provincial working group established in September 2019 to create these standards.

Recommendation 2

CPS should develop, or improve, its policies for deciding when it is appropriate to initiate a Service Investigation, and to ensure that these decisions are properly documented, are made by appropriate personnel, and are subject to robust internal checks and balances to guard against poor decision-making.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Complaints intake team now completes enhanced backgrounding on files that could result in a Service Investigation. This provides our leadership with a more robust understanding of each file and enables them to make informed decisions.
  • Added a position in 2020 to increase our capacity to complete this backgrounding on concerns raised internally.

Recommendation 3

CPS should ensure that the full nature and scope of a complaint is understood, clearly defined and investigated without missing the essence of a complainant’s allegations through early and meaningful consultation with the complainant.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Professional Standards Section (PSS) investigator workflow now requires that both the intake team and investigative team verify the nature of the allegations with the complainant. 
  • A detailed record is retained which now includes a tracking of decision points and recording all phone calls.

Recommendation 4

CPS should review its policies and practices to ensure that all matters that qualify as complaints under the Police Act are treated as such, with formal complaint files being opened by PSS for every complaint, before any investigative steps or attempts at informal resolution are made.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • All issues brought forward to the Professional Standards Section (PSS) result in a record within the file management system before any investigative steps or attempts at informal resolution are made.
  • All records are subject to risk-based triage at intake so all files can be resourced and prioritized according to risk and complexity.
  • Quality Assurance Team will now review the approximately 950 files annually that are resolved by the intake team without further investigation.

Recommendation 5

CPS should undertake a thorough, expert review of its processes and practices for documenting all stages of complaints and for managing the resulting records (including clearly and thoroughly documenting all decisions along the way). The Professional Standards Section’s commanding officer should be responsible for ensuring that complete records are kept for all complaints.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Process revisions engage investigators earlier and enhance file ownership and quality assurance.
  • File review meetings (FIRM) now allow for timely check-in points on file progression for investigators, Professional Standards Section (PSS) management, and the Chief Constable.
  • Decisions and tasks are better documented at all stages and archived on the PSS file management system (IAPro). This documentation includes a File Review Matrix. 
  • The Chief will be provided with a file review package that includes the File Review Matrix, risk triage document, and key decision points from file review meetings to inform decision making.

Recommendation 6

CPS should cease its practice of conducting so-called “administrative reviews” of complaints and instead ensure that the Professional Standards Section conducts efficient and effective investigations of each complaint.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Ended the use of ‘administrative reviews’ for issues relating to complaints with a potential discipline and/or misconduct component.
  • References to the Professional Standards Section (PSS) conducting ‘administrative reviews’ in relation to unintentional discharges of firearms, conducted energy weapons, and less lethal weapons systems have been removed and replaced with the direction for PSS to initiate an investigation.

Recommendation 7

CPS policy should require any officer who becomes aware of adverse judicial findings about, or criticism of, the credibility of any officer’s sworn evidence, or about possible disciplinary misconduct or criminal actions by an officer, to report the matter immediately to the Professional Standard Section’s (PSS’) commanding officer. The commanding officer should be required to consider initiating a complaint. If PSS’ commanding officer decides not to initiate a complaint, she or he must be required to record written reasons for that decision in the file, with a copy of the court decision and PSS reasons being given to the Chief as soon as the decision is made.

STATUS: In process

DETAILS:

  • CPS Member Investigations policy is being updated to include the direction that “Officers are also required to disclose any adverse judicial and Crown comments that have been made about them during any legal proceeding. Adverse comments will include comments which are likely to bring discredit upon the officer, the CPS, or which allege the officer has violated s. 5 of the Police Service Regulation or Criminal Code.”
  • Letters sent from Chief Constable to federal, provincial and municipal Chief Crown Counsel requesting that they forward court decisions “where it held that Calgary Police Service officers conducted themselves in an inappropriate manner” to us. Calgary Crown Prosecutor and the Federal Crown in Alberta both agreed and have standard operating procedures to support this process.

Recommendation 8

CPS policy on responding to adverse judicial findings or criticism about possible disciplinary misconduct or criminal actions by an officer should require that the Chief be immediately advised of such findings or criticism, and that the Chief be required to consider without delay whether a notification of serious or sensitive matters under section 46.1 of the Police Act should be made to the Minister. The Chief should also be required to document the reasons for that decision.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Professional Standards Section (PSS) has had a Judicial and Crown Criticism Standard Operating Procedure since 2014. It provides a process to receive, examine and, if necessary, deal with criticism and comments from the Courts and Crown regarding officers and policies. It requires PSS to conduct a background investigation in collaboration with PSS Legal Counsel. 
  • Process was modified so the initial investigation being presented to the PSS management at the file review meeting. Results are then forwarded to the Chief for a decision on whether to order a service investigation and a 46.1 notification.
  • Adverse judicial and Crown comments that have been disclosed by an officer (see Recommendation 7) are subject to the same process.

Recommendation 9

CPS policy should be revised to eliminate gang membership as a ground for deciding that alleged misconduct is or is not of a serious nature.

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • A complainant having membership in a gang is no longer a consideration in any Professional Standards Section (PSS) policy or guideline.

Recommendation 10

Upon completion of the government’s stakeholder consultations, the Minister should consider appointing a retired judge to review Alberta’s police discipline framework, conduct consultations and expert research, and make recommendations on legislative amendments to modernize the framework.

STATUS: Provincial matter, with input from stakeholders

DETAILS:

  • This recommendation can only be completed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
  • We are participating in the Police Act Review consultation meetings and have put forward recommendations to modernize the Police Act and Police Service Regulation, including in part:
    • Clarifying and streamlining the process and criteria for when officers should be relieved from duty without pay
    • Giving the Chief Constable the power to make binding disciplinary decisions for less-serious misconduct without requiring the consent of the officer involved
    • Giving the Chief the power to dismiss officers without an independent disciplinary hearing when appropriate
    • Streamlining the process and better resourcing all agencies involved (Crown prosecutors, ASIRT, etc.) so the police accountability process does not go on for years
    • Requiring that complainants continue to participate in investigations after filing a complaint (I.e. provide a statement, answer questions, etc.)

Recommendation 11

The Board recommends that the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service adopt a policy on when and how individual Crown prosecutors should bring to the attention of police services any adverse findings or criticism by the courts of police officer testimony or conduct.  

STATUS: Provincial matter, with input from stakeholders

DETAILS:

  • This recommendation can only be completed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
  • We have supported the province in this by sending letters from the Chief Constable to federal, provincial and municipal Chief Crown Counsel requesting that they forward court decisions “where it is held that Calgary Police Service officers conducted themselves in an inappropriate manner” to us. Calgary Crown Prosecutor and the Federal Crown in Alberta both agreed and have standard operating procedures to support this process.

Recommendation 12

The provincial government should, in collaboration with police services and commissions, make readily available to the public comprehensive, easy to understand, informational and educational materials about complaints and the police disciplinary process.  

STATUS: Provincial matter, with input from stakeholders

DETAILS:

  • We are supporting the province in this by revamping our public information on the complaints process to ensure we are providing the public with comprehensive, easy to understand materials on the disciplinary process.
  • A new community accountability webpage has been created to enhance trust as a central hub for all accountability reports, including written decisions from disciplinary hearings. 
  • Public reports are being redesigned to provide clearer information to the public on use of force and misconduct investigations.

Recommendation 13

A system for providing information, procedural assistance, legal advice and representation to complainants and appellants should be explored, developed as appropriate, and made readily accessible to complainants.

STATUS: Provincial matter

DETAILS:

Recommendation 14

A province-wide protocol should be established to ensure consistent interpretation and application of clear and comprehensive criteria for timely notifications to the Minister by police chiefs under section 46.1. In addition, section 46.1(1)(b) should be amended to clarify that there need not be a “complaint” before a chief may make a notification under section 46.1.

STATUS: Provincial matter

DETAILS:

Recommendation 15

The Police Act should be amended to require a police chief to notify the police commission and the director of law enforcement, in writing, when the complaint director’s recommendation to issue a section 46.1 notice is not followed, to give reasons for the decision not to notify, and, in a timely way, advise in writing how the concerns raised were in fact addressed.

STATUS: Provincial matter

DETAILS:

Recommendation 16

The Police Act should be amended to clarify how sections 45(3) and (4) interact, to give clear guidance on which issues are to be decided first, and how they are to be decided. Short of this, a province-wide policy should be established to guide police services in a consistent interpretation and application of section 45(4).

STATUS: Provincial matter, with input from stakeholders

DETAILS:

Recommendation 17

Section 45(4.1) of the Police Act should be repealed, thereby restoring appeals to the Board, as a timely and efficient method of civilian oversight of chiefs’ decisions to dismiss complaints as not of a serious nature.

STATUS: Provincial matter

DETAILS:

Recommendation 18

To ensure complaints are investigated fully and effectively, the Police Act should be amended to give police commissions’ public complaint directors the ability to: direct their police service to open complaint files, recommend the wording of allegations to be investigated, and to recommend that specific investigative steps be taken in a given case. The Police Act should also be amended to permit a public complaint director to recommend to the police chief when a section 46.1 notification should be made.

STATUS: Provincial matter

DETAILS:

Recommendation 19

A meaningful effective and efficient alternate dispute resolution system should form part of any new model for police oversight in Alberta.

STATUS: Provincial matter, with input from stakeholders

DETAILS:

Recommendation 20

The recommended systemic review of Alberta’s police disciplinary framework could consider recommending a centralized disciplinary system, independent of police services and commissions, which may provide some or all of the following: complaint intake; complaint streaming; complaint investigation; alternate dispute resolution; complaint disposition; reporting of outcomes (including trends in the complaints and in police discipline overall); and recommendations for training and improvements to police services.

STATUS: Provincial matter, with input from stakeholders

DETAILS:

 

Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Reforms

In late 2016, the Calgary Police Commission worked with us to develop a seven-point plan to help guide reforms aimed at improving our workplace culture. 

Full Report: Calgary Police Commission Seven-Point Plan

Recommendation 1

Establish an independent third-party advocate

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Hired Independent Workplace Concern Advisor
  • Strengthened Respectful Workplace Office
  • Revised Respectful Workplace Policy

Recommendation 2

Retain external expertise to address recommendations

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Developed HR Service Delivery Review Execution Plan
  • Developed Workplace Violence policy
  • Secured civilian Executive Director of Human Resources
  • Ongoing monitoring of provincial legislation

Recommendation 3

Conduct workforce census

STATUS: Complete

DETAILS:

  • Conduct workforce census
  • Communicate results to Service
  • Compare results to general population

Recommendation 4

Review promotion and job placement policies

STATUS: In process

DETAILS:

  • Review of this policies is still underway.

Recommendation 5

Assess perceived or actual gender bias impacts

STATUS: In process

DETAILS:

  • Conducted independent policy reviews
  • Conducted a Gender-Based Analysis + pilot
  • Developing Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

Recommendation 6

Revise promotion and job placement policies

STATUS: In process

DETAILS:

  • Implemented Flexible Work Program
  • Implemented Flexible Work Policy
  • Will follow-up with independent policy reviews
  • Developing Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

Recommendation 7

Provide training to employees

STATUS: In process

DETAILS:

  • Sustaining Respectful Workplace Office
  • Delivered Respectful Workplace training
  • Developing Diversity & Inclusion Strategy

Gender Equity Reforms

On June 28, 2016, we presented a report to the Calgary Police Commission that provides an overview of the issues related to gender in the Service. It also outlined 17 recommendations to address the issues, the steps already taken, and future work to be done. 

Full Report: Addressing Gender Equity in the Service

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