Calgary police morale slides to 'its lowest level' in 2017

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Morale within the Calgary Police Service continues to decline, according to an annual survey, which found officers feel less proud of their work and a growing number are looking at leaving the service.

"Employee pride in working for CPS is at its lowest level," reads a report released Thursday by the Calgary police commission, which tracks employee morale each year.

The survey, which was completed by nearly half of the service's 2,800 sworn and civilian members, found just 64 per cent of respondents felt they "definitely" would still be employed by CPS in a year's time.

That's down from 74 per cent in the 2013 survey.

Frustrations were especially high among sworn officers, with just 30 per cent saying they felt a high degree of pride in the work they do, down from 58 per cent three years earlier.

Nearly half of officers said they no longer feel motivated to go above and beyond in their jobs — more than twice the rate of three years ago.

This year's survey also found 21 per cent of employees were "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with the service that CPS provides to citizens.

In 2013, just six per cent of survey respondents said that.

Police also feel less confident in the level of security they are providing, with only 36 per cent now saying they "strongly agree" that Calgary is a safe city to live in, down from 53 per cent in 2013.

Reasons for sliding morale

The most common reason cited among police who said their job satisfaction is declining was "poor leadership" from the chief and senior CPS leaders.

Stress and frustration, a sense that officers aren't supported or listened to, and failures to address identified problems were next on the list.

Heavy workloads and a lack of time to get work done were also among the most common reasons cited.

"We know staff are eager for additional supports, such as educational/development opportunities and more employees to help with the heavy workload," Calgary police commission chair Brian Thiessen said in a preface to the report.

"They are looking for better communication and more support from senior leadership, including better acknowledgement of their contributions."

City council's recent decision to boost the police budget and hire more officers should help alleviate some of those stresses, Thiessen said.

Senior police leadership is also "working on a broader action plan to address the concerns raised in this survey," he added.

"The commission is eager to see that plan implemented so employee satisfaction and engagement can start to climb back up," Thiessen said.

"The message is clear: the time to act is now."