Chief Dan Kinsella in response to our story earlier today:
I will not be commenting on the specifics of the union process at this time, which notably, the union president chose to first communicate two weeks ago through media interviews. It is best that you speak directly with the union executive on that. What I can say is that this past September, I reached out to Sgt Stienburg and his executive to ask them to work with management to help create an action plan in response to a recent employee engagement survey. I will continue to call on them to come to the table to be part of solutions. However they have chosen to focus on creating divisions and spread rhetoric – and unfortunately this process is just one more step in that ongoing effort.
We are going through a time of unprecedented challenges facing policing. Many police services in the country are dealing with serious issues related to employee morale and wellness, attrition and recruitment. At the same time we are being challenged to step up and adapt to changing expectations of the policing profession.
Since my arrival in 2019 just before the start of the pandemic, I have taken on our challenges very seriously and have focused on effective service delivery, accountability, our engagement with diverse communities, and have continued to work proactively to address staffing and member wellness issues. At every single step, the union leadership and particularly Sgt Stienburg have been resistant to positive change, attacked my character repeatedly over these years, spread false information and acted divisively instead of trying to be part of much-needed cultural change.
With recent employee engagement survey results and in talking to our members, we know that we have work to do on member morale and there are many issues we must continue to act on. It is a difficult time to be a police officer right now and our members continue to deliver in the midst of a sentiment that isn’t always favourable to those in policing or one that values traditional police work. We have work to do to continue to support members, make them feel heard and improve engagement and morale. As we move out of the pandemic, we are steadfast in moving forward with that and to prioritize in-person engagement.
Concrete, demonstrable actions are critical to improving engagement. Here are just a few examples and facts, which have been ignored in favour of personal attacks. Three in-house HRP cadet classes have been implemented since 2019, as we adapted our training program for an ongoing pandemic, and planned for expected attrition. 16.5 new full time positions were approved in the last budget – a first in over a decade other than those positions that came with a previous contract, supplemented by the ongoing hiring of lateral police officers. A new member reintegration program and expanding capacity for our EFAP program are just two examples of ways in which we are stepping up to focus on member wellness. A management-employee staffing committee has been established to work on staffing challenges in a focused way. At the same time many other key organizational changes have been implemented in order to improve accountability and our response to those we serve. They include expansion of our audit unit, bolstering of professional standards division (PSD) capacity, relocating of PSD staff to a neutral, off-site location, a new hate crimes unit, a new security clearance unit, adding supervision and establishing a new special victims unit in CID – to name a few. All these initiatives were moved forward with the collaboration and commitment of a variety of teams in an extremely challenging time.
The actual number of sworn members that have left through retirements/resignations/terminations since July 2019 is 75 during an unprecedented time in policing. The number of sworn officers hired in that same time frame is 77. In 2022 alone so far, we have hired 16 experienced police officers (EPOs) already in a highly competitive market, and are anticipating hiring several additional EPOs this month. A class of 28 in-house cadets (our largest class ever) just started training two weeks ago, and will graduate next year, further adding significant capacity. Notably the assertion that the retirements/resignations/terminations are at an all-time high has little merit when you look at the last decade of HRP, even with the current extraordinary policing challenges.
These aren’t simply changes for the sake of change, as has been alleged – but change that is core to our organizational focus on supporting member wellness; planning for and addressing capacity constraints; responding to public safety needs and organizational accountability; improving service for our diverse communities; and, positioning our organization for future growth. Our members at large have stepped up all along and taken on the challenge.
With all of the traumatic experiences that policing has endured over the last few years and in recent weeks, and with us finally coming out of a pandemic, it is now time to come together. The road ahead won’t be easy but we have to step up and respond as expected of us during these times. I am committed to that work, and to supporting our members through these difficult circumstances.