Police chiefs are committed to improving police professionalism – Chief Dale McFee

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NNLCRIMEbeatTHUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – “Across the country police chiefs are committed to improving police professionalism, and this study will be an important resource for our members” says Chief Dale McFee, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), a non-profit organization representing 90% of the police community in Canada.. “As society grows and values evolve, so too should the profession of policing.”

Recommendations from the first-ever national survey and study of ethics and professionalism in Canadian police forces were released by the CCAP. The study, which started in 2009, includes a national survey with over 10,000 respondents in 31 Canadian police services, as well as 80 interviews and a literature review.

The survey of sworn members, ranking from Constable to Staff Sergeant, asked about issues such as work environment and conditions, supervision, decision-making, management and community engagement.

“Police chiefs across the country wanted a comprehensive look at evolving issues, like the importance of supervisory support, as well as answers to the tough questions such as how the front line feels about the behavioural integrity of their colleagues,” says Assistant Commissioner Norm Lipinski, head of the CACP ethics committee. “The goal was to provide a benchmark for all police forces, and guidelines on how we might better structure policing.”

The study was conducted by Carleton University’s Dr. Stephen Maguire and Dr. Lorraine Dyke, with financial support from the CACP and the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership.

The survey focused on which programs and practices have the most impact on sustaining officer integrity and organizational commitment. Key highlights found:

  • 78% of police officers are willing to put in a great deal of effort to ensure their agency is successful;
  • 65% feel there is a good match between their colleagues’ word and actions, (25% had no opinion on that question) and 10% felt that words and actions did not align;
  • 78% of front line police officers agreed that their agency had a good relationship with the community, for example partnering with the community to solve crimes (20% had no opinion) and 2% disagreed;
  • 68% of respondents felt citizen complaints were dealt with fairly (20% had no opinion) and 12% disagreed;
  • 17% of respondents indicated concerns re the quality of supervision, for example if their supervisor would help them solve work related problems (24% were neutral) and 59% felt their supervisors were supportive;
  • 34% expressed concerns about whether their organization cared about their well being;
  • 48% indicated dissatisfaction with ethical leadership of their senior management team, for example whether senior management explains decisions to employees, or whether employees felt listened to.

After analyzing the results of the survey, reviewing literature and conducting interviews Dr. Maguire and his team felt it was important for Canadian police agencies to spend more time communicating about their agency’s programs and expectations.

“The good news is that I found very strong indicators of professionalism already within policing practices and programs across the country. Relationships with the community are strong. Where improvements need to be made, the most salient general recommendation is to improve support for and communication with the front line,” says Dr. Maguire.

Dr. Maguire developed 52 recommendations for police agencies across Canada to consider.

The recommendations have been accepted by the CACP. Broadly speaking, the top recommendations are for agencies to:

  • Develop a program for managing ethics – set standards to guide discretionary judgment, develop in-house ethics expertise, and develop interactive ethics sessions for all in-house training;
  • Support professional development;
  • Provide more support for the front line by reducing span of control and by providing timely training to supervisors in supportive supervision.

“This study provided all Canadian police agencies with valuable insights. It underscored the importance of strengthening our commitment to ethical leadership, and showed us we need to do a better job of communicating that commitment internally to our front line police officers,” concluded Chief McFee.

You can read the survey results at Survey Results 2012

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