Culture at cop shop eating at morale: Study

Corporate culture telling Ottawa’s overworked cops to “just suck it up and get it done” has been eating away at morale, according to documents obtained by the Sun through an Access to Information request.

Excerpts from the report read like an episode of the HBO hit show The Wire.

“They have too many political agendas,” said one cop.

Within the Ottawa Police Service it’s “all about who you report to,” said another.

Police officers working sex crimes and murders cited long hours and lack of resources as the main reasons for being strung out.

“We have no say in setting our own priorities,” said one cop.

Constables, sergeants, staff sergeants, superintendents, inspectors, and civilians in the Criminal Investigation Services unit provided anonymous feedback in spring 2010 for the role overload study conducted by two business professors: Linda Duxbury from Carleton University and Christopher Higgins from the University of Western Ontario.

A summary was presented at the police services board meeting a month ago but police refused to release the full report.

A total of 233 employees responded to a survey and 94 took part in focus groups, in which they expressed frustration over skewed work-life balance, micromanagement, and lack of control over priorities.

Roughly 76% of them have worked for OPS for at least 11 years.

Other findings are police feel understaffed and overcommitted and work often interferes with family life.

And on average, cops have to go to court 33 days each year.

Roughly 75% of respondents missed family activities because they had to appear in court, while half had to attend court on their days off.

One in three risked burnout, resulting in high absenteeism and poor physical and mental health.

There are also concerns about uneven workloads — lazy cops have been rewarded with less work, while hard-working officers get more on their plate, according to respondents.

One in three cops want to see change in the corporate culture.

Many of the report’s recommendations — namely involving supervision — have already been implemented by police.

Ottawa police brass could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“I think organizational culture is one of those things that doesn’t change by revolutionary means. It’s an evolutionary process,” said Insp. Scott Brown.

And he downplayed the findings.

“I don’t think you can characterize our workplace as a place where we’re walking around you know, expressing to each other that we’re stressed out or that morale, per se, is low. I mean, that’s not necessarily a topic of daily conversation or anything like that,” said Brown.

Police services board chairman Eli El-Chantiry said he was not given the report but is proud of the membership.

“For us to be part of that study, we’re not sweeping things under the rug,” he said.

“We wanted to come out. If anything, we can learn from it and we can improve, that’s what we want to do.”


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