A Calgary police officer stood up at a police commission hearing and publicly resigned to bring attention to years of harassment and bullying on the force.

The veteran officer made the announcement suddenly, seeming to catch members of the force and the commission off-guard.

“It broke my heart a little when I heard that she felt that she had been made a pariah because she brought issues to the force,” said Brian Thiessen, Calgary Police Commission Chair. “As with all victims in these situations, she is paying a hard price, she has decided that she can no longer work with the service and so she is resigning,”

The announcement comes as the force struggles with accusations of harassment and bullying brought to light in a 2013 workplace review of the force. One civilian member of the service submitted a letter detailing the fear and intimidation she felt after making a complaint to the Professional Standards Section, while other serving members said they were afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation.

Police Chief Roger Chaffin reached out to the officer immediately.

“I spoke to her just shortly before we left just to indicate that I wasn’t going to accept that letter at this point, so that’s not the way you would accept any letter of resignation from an employee, I mean, you could see how emotionally charged she was and the difficulty in that presentation,” he said. “We will wait some time and circle back to her to talk at some point.”

He said work is already underway to change the workplace culture at the service, but it will take time.

“We’ve been three years into the work now making sure we understand exactly where the issues lie and how to start fixing it, we are very much at the precipice of being able to start addressing those issues with programs and measurables to start down that path of teaching culture within the organization,” he said.

Thiessen said he wants members to know that the commission is behind them as the service goes through a difficult time.

“I thought Jen Magnussen, Officer Magnussen showed an incredible amount of courage by speaking up, it’s probably the most difficult thing you have to do as an employee, you raise concerns with your employer, you try to make change, and you can tell she is a dedicated professional who wanted to improve the organization,” he said. “We need to get an independent, objective individual in place that can hear complaints, we need to take immediate steps, the service is responding to that, but everyone is going to have to have patience.”

The meeting was originally focused on the results of a report into how officers have handled dangerous situations, especially the 10 police shootings of 2016.