76% of Calgary police think morale is poor: employee survey

Low morale continues to be a serious issue at the Calgary Police Service, according to the latest employee survey.

Low morale has remained a consistent problem for CPS

Morale remains low at the Calgary Police Service according to an internal survey. (CBC)

Low morale continues to be a serious issue at the Calgary Police Service, according to the latest employee survey.

Just four per cent of respondents said they strongly agreed that morale at work is good, with 20 per cent saying they moderately agreed and 76 per cent disagreeing. The results come from the annual employee engagement survey released by the Calgary Police Commission on Nov. 12.

The numbers were consistent with last year's results.

Only four per cent of Calgary Police Service employees said in 2018 they strongly agreed that morale at work was good. (Calgary Police Commission)

"We remain disappointed that morale continues to erode at the service," said police commission chair Brian Thiessen.

"We spent a lot of time and energy securing additional funds for the service last year as part of the budget and our hope was that would be used to turn around morale."

Forty-five per cent of CPS members responded to the survey.

Poor morale has been a well-publicized issue with the service.

In September, the new head of HR — hired to tackle allegations of a toxic workplace and bullying — announced she was retiring after just a few months on the job due to dictatorship-style leadership.

In October, CBC spoke to a number of front-line officers who used words like "crisis" and "mutiny" to describe the frustrations with their work and executive officers.

Employee pride, the number of employees who felt their views are being listened to and those likely to recommend CPS as a career were all categories that saw declines from the previous year.

Only 11 per cent of employees reported they felt highly engaged in their job.

Forty per cent of employees said they were dissatisfied overall with their workplace environment, citing:

  • Poor management/leadership.
  • Low morale/stress.
  • Poor promotion procedures.
  • CPS is in disarray.
  • Communication issues.
  • Don't care about officers/employees.
  • No recognition/don't feel valued.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents said they don't look forward to coming to work.

Only five per cent felt the CPS promotion process was effective at promoting the best-qualified person for the job.

Results 'no surprise': police association

Les Kaminski, president of the Calgary Police Association, sent the following emailed statement in response to the results:

"The results of the employee survey come as absolutely no surprise to us. It is exactly what we have heard our members telling us, and what we have been relaying, to both the Service and to the Police Commission, at every opportunity for the past two years.

"We are very hopeful that a new chief will be willing to work collaboratively with us, the Association and the 2,200 members we represent, to get this turned around."

Thiessen said the morale issues need to be a focus of both the interim chief as well as an important part of the search for a replacement. 

Search for a new chief

Acting Deputy Chief Steve Barlow is serving as interim chief constable until a permanent replacement is found for Chief Roger Chaffin, who is retiring halfway through his five-year contract.

"Many feel the new Chief should be hired from outside CPS. They feel this is critical to rebuilding trust and morale at CPS," read a highlight from the survey results.

Thiessen said he hopes the search for a new chief will attract the type of candidates that are up to tackle both the quick fixes and long-term challenges ahead.

"I think it does attract individuals who like that type of challenge, who want to engage and see if they can address morale issues," he said.

The job is expected to be posted later this month.

A total of 1,278 employees responded to the online survey between August and September. Results from past surveys dating back to 2009 were included in the results where possible. The survey was undertaken by Illumina Research Partners.

With files from Colleen Underwood.


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