Calgary, AB,

Calgary Police improve transparency on officer conduct investigations

The Calgary Police Service has made new information available to citizens on how concerns and complaints about officer conduct are handled.

New webpages explaining the process the Service follows when citizens report a concern have been added to Citizens can learn about the laws that govern police conduct and the process for investigating and ultimately dealing with citizen concerns.

Two new reports are also available on the webpages, an Annual Report providing statistical information on how many times citizens call with concerns or complaints, and a Formal Complaint Outcomes Report on how the Service or Professional Conduct Hearings addressed complaints that could not be resolved informally.

While the officers involved in the files are not identified, citizens can read a high-level summary of the situation that led to the complaint, what misconduct is alleged, whether the file went to a hearing or was decided by the Chief Constable, and what corrective action was taken in each case.

The goal of this document and the statistical annual report published with it is to provide the public with greater transparency regarding the police complaint process and outcomes.

“We are committed to handling any concerns about an officer’s conduct or the service we provide in a fair, open and transparent way,” says Murray Stooke, Manager of the Ethics & Accountability Division.

In 2016, the Calgary Police Service was dispatched to 274,312 calls. Citizens reported a concern to the Professional Standards Section 1,376 times, which included 282 formal citizen complaints. This is an increase of 38 more formal complaints than received in 2015 and is higher than the five year average of 191 per year.

Around 92 per cent of these concerns and complaints were successfully resolved informally, through an explanation of police procedures, an informal conversation between involved parties, or the officer’s supervisor addressing the concern.

Only 79 matters could not be resolved informally, resulting in a formal investigation, down from a five-year high of 95 in 2014. Only five matters investigated in 2016 required a Professional Conduct Hearing.

The Service also received, on average, 12 compliments every week that commended officers for going above and beyond in their duties.

As part of an ongoing commitment to transparency and openness, the Service recently supported the recommendations made by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP) to ask the province begin a process to modernize the public complaint process.

The AACP has recommended broad-based public consultations on a variety of issues, including the viability and desirability of a fully-independent civilian body to investigate complaints about officer conduct. Additionally, the association suggested the process for investigating concerns and complaints needs to be shortened and streamlined, and that the Presiding Officers in charge of Professional Conduct Hearings should be appointed by the province instead of the Chief of Police.