Letter to Calgarians from the Calgary Police Commission
Over the past several months we have experienced a sea change in our society’s willingness to discuss – and address – systemic racism in our institutions, including policing.
All eleven Commission members are united in our commitment to use our volunteer role to make the changes needed to move toward a more just, inclusive city. We are Calgarians from all walks of life who volunteered to serve our city and to make sure that this has an effective police service that all citizens can trust.
We stand in solidarity with our Black, Indigenous and People of Color colleagues, families and citizens to acknowledge and condemn systemic racism and to back up these statements with meaningful reforms.
This work requires leadership at all levels that brings together the collective experience of public officials, community organizers, and anti-racism experts to move forward collaboratively.
We are grateful for the City’s leadership through the public hearings and the concrete actions outlined in the anti-racism notice of motion. Our action plan will be closely aligned with that of the City to ensure that Calgary’s public bodies are working toward the same goals and outcomes for citizens.
We are keen to continue to listen and learn, but we are also keen to act. We are educating ourselves on systemic racism, anti-racism and unconscious bias through a series of learning sessions delivered by experts. This training will be ongoing for all members and built into our new member orientation.
We have created an anti-racism committee chaired by Commissioner Marilyn North Peigan to harness the incredible wealth of knowledge, talent and commitment among our team. Our current membership is the most diverse in the Commission’s history, with volunteers who are experienced and committed to championing inclusion and diversity.
This committee will guide the Commission’s next steps and oversee the work underway and needed at the Calgary Police Service. As a starting point, the committee will hold a de-briefing session with the City’s expert advisory committee to hear their insights and recommendations and engage an anti-racism expert to review Commission policies and operations through anti-racism lens and to develop an inclusiveness, equity and diversity strategy for the Commission.
This expert will look at ways to make the Commission a more inclusive environment and will hopefully challenge the norms that may have limited full participation in the past.
We will revise our operations in a way that will improve transparency, accountability and our relationship with the community.
We will also continue working with the Province on reforming the Police Act to establish a complaint system that reduces the length of the process and addresses the community’s concerns about accountability.
To counter the long history of systemic racism in policing, the Commission expects the Calgary Police Service to take action to embed anti-racism, equity, inclusion and diversity into the core of the organization.
A continuous improvement approach – doing the same things better – is no longer enough. This moment involves a strategic re-positioning – to reimagine how the entire public safety model can be improved.
This will require a comprehensive inclusion, equity and diversity plan developed in consultation with experts and affected groups.
We expect a plan that:
- Removes systemic barriers by addressing the root causes of inequities,
- One that takes a collective approach by working with the City, the Province and partner organizations,
- One that is inclusive in its creation – that meaningfully engages Black, Indigenous and people of color.
- One that is based on evidence and driven by measurable goals and outcomes that are reported publicly through the Commission.
- And one that clearly outlines the resource implications, particularly when exploring alternate safety delivery models.
Action plans must be delivered with timelines, accountabilities, and measurements to evaluate effectiveness, as well as plans to seek community input along the way. We are raising our expectations and standards when it comes to more clear and transparent public reporting.
A critical part of our work involves hearing from Calgarians to make sure CPS is on the right track. As part of our ongoing consultations with Calgarians, we will work with CPS and the City on a plan to learn more from citizens and to get their perspective on whether these plans are on the right track.
These activities are just the beginning and we are open to expanding and revising as we work toward achieving a fair, equitable system of public safety.