News / Calgary

Bullying expert advocates for bystander training in Calgary Police Service

Founder and executive director of Alberta Bullying Research, Resources and Recovery Center lays out five steps she thinks should be taken by CPS

Jen Magnus says fears exist in CPS members who witness bullying and harassment but are worried they too will end up a victim.

Elizabeth Cameron / For Metro

Jen Magnus says fears exist in CPS members who witness bullying and harassment but are worried they too will end up a victim.

An Alberta bullying expert says she hopes Calgary Police Services new policies in terms of workplace bullying and harassment will have mechanisms in place to deal with bystanders. 

Over the last year, the Calgary Police Service has been under the spotlight after allegations of bullying and harassment within the ranks surfaces. 

Members who spoke with Metro said there were often fellow officers—and leaders—within the force who witnessed their bullying and did nothing. 

“We know that is the most important role of all,” said Linda Crockett, founder and executive director of Alberta Bullying Research, Resources and Recovery Center. 

Most recently 14 members file formal complaints against the service, who is expected to update the Calgary Police Commission Tuesday about the progress they have made in dealing with the issues, including hiring an independent auditor. 

Metro reached out to CPS who said that out of respect for the CPC they wouldn’t be giving any updates prior to the meeting. 

Crockett said in her experience there are five things that need to happen to help bystanders feel comfortable with speaking out about the bullying and harassment they witness. 

First, Crockett said all CPS policies and procedures should be updated, clear and accessible. 

“But most importantly followed through with on a consistent basis, fairly and in a timely manner,” she said. 

Crockett said it’s also important to introduce bystander education and training so that everyone understands the definition of psychological harassment and can see the signs. 

“This offers validation to the experience of the bystander as well,” she said. 

Validation is something former CPS officer and official complainants Jen Magnus would like to see address as well. 

“I hold it on the leaders, because what they need to do is validate when someone comes up with a complaint and act on it,” she said. 

Crockett said she also believes bystanders should have resources such as workplace coaches specifically trained in bystander issues and she’d like to see the public educated on what a bystander goes through. 

Finally, Crockett said it’s important to identify the barriers bystanders face with coming forward, which can include being overwhelmed with work or personal issues, fear of being a target or fear of job loss. 

“It was even said to me by one person that they knew what was happening to me but didn’t want to speak out because they were scared they’d end up with a ‘bad reputation’ like mine,” said Magnus, who agrees more needs to be done to educate others on the issue.

“They didn’t want to end up like I did, with my career ruined and me pretty much done .”

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