Inadequate staffing remains a top concern among Calgary Police Service members, however, overall morale appears on the rise, according to a new police employee survey.
The survey results were released at the Oct. 25 Calgary Police Commission meeting and show that of the 1,625 members asked in an online survey, half indicated that on some level their personal morale is good. Sixty per cent said that they were proud to work for CPS, an increase over last year’s result. FULL RESULTS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STORY.
Of the members surveyed from July 17 to August 28, 77 per cent did not agree with the statement “Morale at CPS is good.” That number is better than the 87 per cent that disagreed in 2022.
CPC Chair Shawn Cornett said that last year’s survey showed some of the lowest numbers since they began the survey in 2008.
“Many of the problems undermining employee morale and trust at the CPS have built up over years, and it will take years of sustained effort to fix them and regain employees’ trust,” said Calgary Police Commission Chair Shawn Cornett.
“Our hope for the survey this year was to see some indication that the CPS and our Commission are on the right track with the changes we are making. We clearly still have a long way to go, but it is encouraging to see morale and trust finally trending in the right direction.”
The CPS did launch its Pathways to Engagement program to help address some of the employee concerns. Of the employees surveyed, 53 per cent said that employee engagement improved, an 11 per cent improvement over 2022, but still not as high as the 62 per cent agreement in 2019.
“Our members have shown time and again that they want to be a part of improving the workplace for each other and Calgarians and have done a tremendous job of coming up with employee-driven solutions that continue to be actioned through Pathways to Engagement,” said Calgary police Chief Constable, Mark Neufeld.
The Pathways to Engagement program thus far has identified 500 internal changes and evaluated and implemented more than 350 of them, according to police.
Challenges with workload
Workload related to staffing has been a nagging concern for the Calgary Police Service over the years. Since 2019, the average is nearly 85 per cent who disagree with the statement that CPS is adequately staffed.
Eight-eight per cent of those surveyed in 2023 indicated low agreement with the statement CPS is adequately staffed. It is an improvement over the 93 per cent from 2022.
Over the next four years, the Calgary police are budgeted to add 290 new full-time positions. The province has also committed to funding for 50 additional officers.
Meanwhile, Calgary’s population is continuing to climb, the coverage area increases and the CPS deals with annual attrition – but Chief Neufeld says much of that was taken into consideration with an increase in personnel, and the workload they’re handling.
“I should also add that the other side of this is the demand side. A lot of good work has been done to sort of reduce the number of calls going to the screens of our officers,” Chief Neufeld said. He cited the co-located dispatch centres with 211, the mobile response teams done in partnership with the Alex Community Health Centre and their response agreements with EMS, transit, bylaw and fire.
“Between the two, I think we’re going to make some progress. But again, it takes time and if you’re somebody on the front line working hard, it’s not going to seem quick enough,” he said.
Overall, Chief Neufeld said the survey results were a positive step forward.
“The survey was heart-wrenching last year, so I’m thankful for the work that was done,” he said.
And so yes, on that basis, I’m pleased to see an inflection; I’m pleased to see modest increases. At the same time. We know from talking to our employees, the six themes that we heard, we know that it’s complicated. We know there’s a ton more work to do.”