My Resignation from Police Commission
My Vision for Community Safety
After much reflection and thought, I informed the Calgary Police Commission that I will be resigning my role as Commissioner, effective October 31, 2022.
To my colleagues on Commission, I want to thank you all for the work we’ve engaged in over the past year. It has been an honour serving alongside you.
I joined the Calgary Police Commission intending to help bring about transformational change within the Calgary Police Service. I had hoped to better understand policing to gather a more nuanced grasp of the systems of care in place for citizens. I intended to find out why, given all we know about the complexities of need, community safety, and well-being, policing remained our number one resource for community safety.
I am grateful for the time I have been on Commission, and for the work I was able to contribute to.
It is significant that I support the many Calgarians who are calling for a broader system of care that has too often been neglected and under resourced, especially if we intend to proactively address the root causes of crime. We could do so through the provision of adequate housing, access to health care and social services, and fostering supportive and stable relationships in community.
The risk factors that contribute to criminal and criminalized behaviour are well understood. We know the obvious structural factors: inadequate housing, poverty, lack of educational and employment opportunities. But it is more complex than that. The health, personal and social risk factors include social exclusion, bullying, racism, addiction, and often untreated mental health disorders.
Without the systems of care that address this accumulated neglect, the results are entirely predictable. We rely on policing, the justice system, and carceral state as a costly first and last resort to problems that should and could be addressed much earlier with much more favourable outcomes.
Safety is important to Calgarians. My goal, and what Calgarians desire and deserve, is a city where we are all involved in the work of making each other safe. Social workers, teachers, community workers, outreach workers, shelter workers, nurses, doctors, daycare workers, transit drivers, and countless others — as well as the police — all have important roles to play in this work.
This vision has historically been a key principle of policing. Sir Robert Peel’s 1829 Principles of Law Enforcement states that “the police are the public and the public are the police, with the police acting as members of the public paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
There is little tolerance in this vision for a dividing line between the police, the public they serve, and all of us who are responsible for our collective community safety.
The challenge confronting modern policing is twofold.
First, we must distribute the resources necessary for increasing safety among the services and providers that prevent crime. It is unfair to members of the Calgary Police Service to expect them to guarantee community safety without resourcing the services that can prevent a majority of criminalized behaviour and contact with law enforcement in the first place.
This will allow them to focus on more significant crimes that deserve higher resourcing and their unmitigated focus, and more importantly, will ensure those who need equitable support receive it prior to entering the criminal justice system, rather than after.
Secondly, police must understand themselves as equal partners in a broad team of experts, service providers and community supports that contribute to community safety – with an emphasis on equal. The CPS as an organization has begun moving toward this vision in some of their initiatives and commitments, and I look forward to the further commitments and actions needed to realize this vision.
We can be so much more than what we are today. I will continue to pursue this vision of a system of care that is more responsive to the needs of our citizenry, but no longer as a commissioner for the Calgary Police Service. Instead, I will do so as a Councillor and a citizen.
I hope you will join me in this work.
Councillor, Ward 8