Calgary

Calgary police's new HR head resigns months into the job

The Calgary police's chief human resources officer has resigned after just months on the job, as the service struggles to implement HR reforms that were meant to tackle claims of bullying, harassment and gender discrimination.

Latest departure just a set back in plan to institute HR reforms, says chief

Calgary police Chief Roger Chaffin, right, listens during a public meeting of the police commission Tuesday. (CBC)

The Calgary police's chief human resources officer has resigned after just months on the job, as the service struggles to implement HR reforms that were meant to tackle claims of bullying, harassment and gender discrimination.

Sheila Ball, a civilian, was hired in February 2018 to oversee the department. She departed from the position last week. The reason for her resignation wasn't provided.

Kim Prodaniuk, who is a 10-year veteran of the force, said the HR head's departure was the third person who filled a key position within the department to leave in the past five years after just a few months on the job.

"I think it's indicative of trouble," said Prodaniuk, who is on the board of the National Women in Law Enforcement Association..

At a public meeting Tuesday, Prodaniuk questioned whether the police commission would host exit interviews for those leaving the department saying the departures are "red flags" that are symptomatic of a deeper problem.

Kim Prodaniuk is with the National Women in Law Enforcement Association. (CBC)

"They're publicly putting forward a face that they want reform and behind closed doors doing stuff that is not effective," Prodaniuk said.

Calgary police commission chair Brian Thiessen said he's disappointed the position has to be filled so soon after someone was hired, but said both the commission and CPS are committed to reform.

"Every organization has hiccups as they proceed through their reforms, CPS is no different," Thiessen said, adding that they would look to CPS to make sure they were consulting employees as they leave.

Police Chief Roger Chaffin said if Ball is willing, the force will undertake an exit interview with her and invite her to provide feedback.

"This'll set us back a little bit but we'll move forward positively and long-term we'll be in a good position," he said.

CPS has been working on how it deals with HR issues in the workplace since a damning 2013 report that outlined widespread issues inside the service.

A seven-point overhaul is in the works, which includes changes to policies and procedures, the establishment of a whistle blower program, ensuring the HR department is staffed by civilians trained in HR, and creating a respectful workplace.

Morale at 'all-time low'

Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who resigned from the Calgary Police Commission last year after criticising what she described as a lack of action to tackle bullying and harassment issues, said the service is still dealing with systemic problems.

"The morale is at an all-time low in the service," Colley-Urquhart said. 

"I don't think the chair of the commission and the current police leadership have made great enough strides that needed to be done in the short time frame we have." 

She said HR issues have deteriorated to a point where it will be a significant amount of work to get things back on track.

Chaffin said a search for a replacement will begin immediately, and in the meantime an officer has been temporarily appointed to the position.

The force is also searching for a replacement for Chaffin, who plans to retire in January — three years in to his five year contract.

With files from Scott Dippel.

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