Ridout Barron


Harassment prevalent in police forces

A recent study of police culture in departments across Canada has revealed some troubling statistics, according to the professor heading the study. The study into workplace harassment is being conducted by a Calgary-based Master of sociology, who says bullying is very common, particularly against female officers. Her comments were spurred by the recent public resignation of a 14-year female veteran of Calgary's police force. 

The PhD candidate, herself a former police officer, expressed a lack of surprise when she heard of the constable's resignation. According to her, she has already spoken to more than 60 members of 20 police forces across Canada, and the stories she is hearing corroborate the one told by the constable. Of particular note, among the stories of sexual harassment and bullying, is the consistent message that police forces foster a "culture of silence" meant to protect officers from reprisal for bad behaviour. 

There is a strong prevalence for officers who come forward with grievances to be ostracized both professionally and personally. Others do not come forward at all, not wishing to be perceived as someone who "rocks the boat". According to official statements by Calgary's police chief, the force is in the process of addressing these issues, but clearly there is still a long way to go. 

While it is understandable for Calgary employees of any stripe to be reticent about coming forward regarding workplace harassment, it is also necessary to effect change. No Canadian deserves to feel unsafe in his or her workplace. Those who do may benefit from seeking the advice of an experienced employment law attorney to help frame their grievances in a constructive way. 

Source: Calgary Sun, "Ongoing bullying in police workplace common across Canada, says researcher", Yolande Cole, Feb. 3, 2017

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