Officer questions 'pie-in-the-sky' work on bullying and harassment within Calgary police

After presenting an update on the Calgary Police Service's human resources overhaul meant to deal with complaints of bullying, harassment and gender discrimination, a serving officer stood up and said she's not seeing change on the ground where it counts.

Chief Roger Chaffin said it's not a quick thing to turn around such a large and established organization

Kim Prodaniuk, right, a 10-year veteran of the Calgary police, said she's not seeing high level HR work reflected in changes on the ground. (Mark Matulis/CBC)

After presenting an update on the Calgary Police Service's human resources overhaul meant to deal with complaints of bullying, harassment and gender discrimination, a serving officer stood up and said she's not seeing change on the ground where it counts. 

"When are we gonna get real here and start hearing about meaningful accountability and consequences to take care of these situations and the real ongoings in the day-to-day workplace, and not these pie-in the-sky ideas of what should happen in the CPS," said 10-year veteran Kim Prodaniuk.

The Calgary Police Service has been working on how it deals with gender diversity in the workplace for three years now, following a damning 2013 report that outlined widespread issues with women in the workplace, as well as bullying and harassment within the force. 

The work includes changing its policies and procedures, establishing a whistleblower program, ensuring the HR department is staffed by those trained in HR and creating a respectful workplace office.

'It is not lip service'

Chief Roger Chaffin stands by the work being done.

"From a service perspective it is not lip service," he said after the commission meeting. 

"This has been an immense amount of work to get to where we are. This is work that has been going on for the last three years trying to sort of reorganize ourselves and make sure we are presenting ourselves as a fair and equitable workplace."

Chaffin said he understands frustration with the pace of change, but that you can't quickly turn a ship as large and as burdened by history as the CPS. 

"It's going to be measured over months and years, not days and weeks," he said. "We certainly have some miles to walk yet."

Potential for HR audit

The chair of the police commission, the civilian body responsible for overseeing the CPS, echoed the views of the chief. 

"I understand the frustration with progress, but as I've said from the beginning of this process, if you think about achieving organizational change on a complex issue like gender diversity for a paramilitary organization, it takes time," said Brian Thiessen.

He said the commission is working on ways to best measure progress on gender diversity within the force, including a potential HR audit in one or two years. 

"I think this issue is being pushed extremely aggressively by the Calgary Police Commission at the direction of the public, who are concerned on this issue," said Thiessen.

"I think it's as aggressive as any organization I've seen in my professional experience move."

Change on the ground

It's not an answer that is likely to please Prodaniuk, who declined to speak with media following her statements during the meeting. 

"Today we heard what is supposed to happen in the CPS and there is actually what actually happens in the CPS," she said to those gathered for the commission. 

"We've heard about reforming respectful workplace office, policies, training, promotional processes and on. The CPS is great at creating policies and training that aren't in reality being adhered to, and backroom politics is absolutely rampant and is currently affecting the morale."

With files from Scott Dippel