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Christine Silverberg, Calgary’s chief of police

The Story


In 1995, Christine Silverberg made history when she became the first woman in the country to head a major city police force. As the chief of Calgary police, this native Ontarian had her work cut out for her. She was a woman and an outsider charged with the daunting task of making the ultimate boys' club more accessible and user-friendly. But Calgary's top cop was up to the challenge. Silverberg tells the CBC's Pamela Wallin how her commitment to integrity and belief in people are what drive her after decades in the police force.

Medium: Television
Program: Pamela Wallin
Broadcast Date: June 18, 1997
Guest(s): Christine Silverberg
Host: Pamela Wallin
Duration: 3:53

Did You know?


• Christine Bertram was born in 1949 and grew up on a dairy farm just outside Brampton, Ont. She has two older brothers and a younger sister.

 

• In 1971, she married Ben Silverberg. They met in Toronto while she studied sociology and political science at York University's Glendon College. The couple have a son and a daughter.

• In 1972, 21-year-old Silverberg became one of the first female recruits for the Mississauga police force. Back then women officers weren't allowed to carry guns or go on uniformed patrol. Silverberg quickly learned how to deal with sexism and harassment in the macho police world.

 

• Silverberg left her job as deputy chief of the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police in Ontario — the first woman to reach that position — to become the chief of Calgary police in 1995.

• In Calgary, Silverberg had to deal with obscenities scrawled on the sidewalk outside police headquarters. She also received threats, including a letter bomb, which was disabled before it could explode.

• Silverberg also found herself in the middle of a political war between the Calgary Police Commission and the city council over her contract. Silverberg had negotiated a salary of $125,000 per year with the police commission but in a rare move the city council objected and said it was too high. An outside arbitrator eventually settled in Silverberg's favour.

• In 2000, after completing her five year tenure as chief of the Calgary police, she retired from policing altogether. Silverberg left the Calgary police service with 1,845 employees, 229 more than when she took office; a $152-million gross expenditure budget, $37 million more than in 1995; and an innovative approach to community policing, including the creation of the family, youth and violent-crime section. (Globe and Mail, October 2000)

• After her retirement from the police force, Silverberg pursued a career in law, graduating from the University of Calgary School of Law in 2004.

 


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