Date: April 16, 2021
In response to a very thorough and well presented report by Investigator Helen Daniel, the Chief and Deputy Chief have worked toward implementing the 10 recommendations made. Some of these recommendations assist in confirming areas for improvement which had already been identified, but some were not previously recognized as areas of concern. All have been or are being addressed in an effort to continually improve the Sarnia Police Service. The work done thus far has the endorsement of the Sarnia Police Association who have been kept apprised and will be involved going forward.
The first two recommendations surrounded workplace gossip and communication. Communication with the public is governed by the Police Services Act and the Ontario Media Relations Officer Network (OMRON). We have highly trained individuals who do an excellent job conveying our messages to the public. When necessary such as during an emergency we also work hand in hand with the City of Sarnia to provide the public with consistent messaging. With regard to gossip, this occurs in every workplace, but if begins to toxify the work environment it needs to be addressed. This is going to take work in collaboration with the Association. One area that is the subject of gossip is discipline. Officers may face discipline for a number of matters but when it is handled informally then by labour law the outcome is kept private. This leads to the perception that “nothing was done”. We will continue to work with the Association to open up communication surrounding this issue without breaching privacy rights.
Workplace violence and harassment training has already been addressed as recently as 2020 and is an ongoing part of new and experienced employee training. As new legislation evolves our Training Branch ensures to relay any necessary information to all employees.
The recommendation surrounding problems with effective management when the managers are members of the Association is one that is beyond the control of the Deputy or Chief. All police officers below the rank of Deputy Chief are members of Police Associations. Many Services have what is termed a Senior Officer Association for those of the rank Inspector or above. However, this has to be member and Association driven and no one can be forced to leave the existing Association. One area we are exploring is that of Human Resources which we are working closely with the City and our Association to address.
We are very open to exploring expansion of management training. In fact, we have already had discussions with Lambton College surrounding the possibility of them designing a training package for middle and senior management positions within the Service. After consulting with the Sarnia Police Association this will be presented to the Board for their consideration.
The promotional panel recommendations will be addressed with the Associations input. The process has evolved over time and is intended to be fair and consistent. There is always room for improvement and by adding more transparency to the system concerns should be alleviated. It should be noted that this was already agreed to in a Letter of Understanding within the recently settled collective agreement.
Recommendations surrounding recording of conversations, conflict of interest and investigation of complaints have all been addressed by adjustments or additions to internal policies.
Finally, our efforts to attract more female officers is paying off. We presently have five officers either attending Ontario Police College or slated to attend and two out of the five are female candidates. Sarnia Police Service will always be open to applicants from all walks of life and look to be inclusive of all.
Chief Norm Hansen
Chief of Police