Half of the Edmonton Police Service employees who responded to a recent survey on work satisfaction said they had "seriously considered leaving" the force in the past year, according to an internal report obtained by CBC News.
The 58-page report from Meyers Norris Penny LLP, titled Work-Life Balance and Child Care Needs Assessment, was commissioned by the Edmonton Police Service and completed in December 2008.
Sworn members and civilian members of the force were invited to take part in the survey.
51 per cent of employees who responded to a question on whether they had considered quitting the service in the past year said they had thought of leaving, with 69 per cent saying "low morale" could be one of the reasons why.
Of those 690 individuals, 73 per cent were sworn members of the service.
"It rings alarm bells for me," said Tony Simioni, president of the police union. "It shows obviously a large level of dissatisfaction and commitment to policing as a career."
Officers are feeling stressed, Simioni said, and the reasons vary.
"The work load is higher than it's ever been," he said. "There's concerns about their safety. There's also concerns about the scrutiny that they are being held under, professional scrutiny, with respect to the possible disciplinary sanctions that they have been facing.
"It's a different culture now and a different set of expectations than there has been in the past."
1,941 employees were invited to take part in the online survey.
1,339, or 69 per cent, actually responded, according to the report. Of those who responded, 71 per cent were sworn members of the force.
The results come as the Edmonton Police Service tries to recruit more employees, a task the report notes will become more challenging over the next decade "as the profession develops complexity and employers compete for the same people in an increasingly tight labour market."
Findings not a surprise: police chief
Edmonton police Chief Mike Boyd said Tuesday he's not surprised by the results.
Police officers are facing high demands at a time when many older officers are retiring, he said.
"Edmonton has been under-strengthed for a long time and our issues and the demand on policing here in the city has grown," Boyd said.
"And so it really has caused an impact on the men and women of the police service ... while we're in this retirement phase and additional demand, it really has caused additional work for them."
The number of retirements should slow down in 2009, Boyd said, and the addition of 145 new officers should help ease the workload.
Boyd said he's committed to helping members of the police service achieve a better work-life balance, and the report will give him ideas on how to do that.