News / Calgary

Calgary police officers lawyer up in campaign to fix workplace culture

Law firm warns legal action could follow if investigation is not up to snuff

Rachel West, left, and Jen Magnus speak at the Dunphy Best Blocksom law offices in Calgary. West is representing Magnus, who recently publicly resigned from the Calgary Police Service.

Elizabeth Cameron/For Metro

Rachel West, left, and Jen Magnus speak at the Dunphy Best Blocksom law offices in Calgary. West is representing Magnus, who recently publicly resigned from the Calgary Police Service.

Thirteen current and former members of the Calgary Police Service are filing formal complaints against the service, in relation to allegations of bullying and harassment, Metro has learned.

Over the last year Metro has covered the workplace culture issues within the CPS that have come to light including problems with bullying, sexual harassment, harassment and human resource practices.

Rachel West of Dunphy Best Blocksom law firm is legal council for the 13 pursuing the complaints. She said they plan on working with CPS to solve the complaints under the condition they get an external auditor to conduct an investigation.

“At this stage we’re creating a system for how the complaints will be dealt with,” said West. “That process is still being determined but the chief has made a commitment to conduct a proper investigation with an external investigator.”

Metro asked to speak with CPS Chief Roger Chaffin, but was told that due to privacy reasons, he couldn’t discuss personnel issues.

West said if the investigation is not done in an appropriate way, the 13 complainants could pursue further legal action.

“Nothing is off the table,” she said.

One of the most well known individuals filing a formal complaint is Jen Magnus Ward, a former CPS member who publicly resigned at last month’s Calgary Police Commission Meeting.

She said she feels good about this process after meeting with Chaffin last week.

“From what he’s said he’s committed to making sure there is a transparent process to deal with my complaint, and likely others, and to address the issues we’ve had,” she said.

West said the most important thing for people to understand is that in these situations where a “culture of behaviour” emerges, there always has to be one brave person willing to call foul. 

“It’s so important for somebody to be willing to stand up and say that something is going on, and that something is wrong—and that’s what Jen has done,” she said. “When patterns start emerging some people are going to sit back and keep their heads down and survive it— but sometimes when one person stands up they open the door for others to say, ‘This is happening to me too’.”

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