Editorial: Challenging time for city’s top cop

So, how will history remember the Chief Roger Chaffin era?

Likely as little more than a blip as a three-year term was nowhere near long enough for Calgary’s retiring police chief to make his mark.

We do know his time at the top, capping a 32-year career, has seen a number of challenges both internally and out on the streets.

Most damaging to the force, of course, has been the ongoing charges of a toxic workplace, with alleged bullying and harassment of female officers at the forefront.

Having inherited that mess from his predecessor, Rick Hanson, Chaffin talked a good game about changing the culture and addressing the problem head on but it remains to be seen if in fact he has changed anything.

Some would suggest it’s an ongoing struggle turning that big an issue on a dime.

From a purely inside baseball perspective, by all accounts the issue of tenure also damaged morale within the force, with veteran officers upset about being sent back to the streets from specialized positions.

From the outside perspective, Chaffin’s time has corresponded with the nationwide opioid crisis, which very much seemed to have ground zero right here in Alberta.

Combine a drug plague with an economic meltdown and you have the perfect ingredients for criminal mayhem.

Aside from the policing/health crisis on the streets of every corner of our city, the resulting crime wave has not been easy on our men and women in blue, or black.

Hand in hand with chaos on the streets has been the alarming number of officer-involved shootings.

While ASIRT — the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team — independently investigates these shootings on a case-by-case basis, the accumulation of incidents certainly raised eyebrows.

This led to the hiring of retired Justice Neil Wittmann to review CPS use of force.

His report subsequently made 65 recommendations for changes in training, recruitment, equipment and oversight with focusing on the use of non-deadly alternatives possibly the key suggestion.

Auto theft has been off the charts and has proven a constant frustration for police and a threat to law-abiding citizens.

With much of it driven by desperate drug abusers and repeat offenders, it’s been near impossible to stem the tide and even came to the point where the police pleaded with the public to stop making it so easy for their vehicles to be stolen.

No, our next chief constable won’t be stepping into a cushy job in Happy Valley.

There is still much work to be done on these issues in a city only getting bigger, and some might argue colder, with the added pressure and unknowns of marijuana legalization.

Chief Chaffin, we salute you for your service during difficult days and wish you a peaceful and rewarding retirement.

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