Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin is retiring from the force after 32 years and says the decision was made with the best interests of the community and service in mind.
Commission Chair, Brian Thiessen, says the Commission respects Chaffin’s decision and that his retirement will be effective on January 6, 2019.
“I consider Chief Chaffin a friend and I think if you were to look at the dictionary, Chief Chaffin’s picture should be beside the word integrity. I have found him to be someone who always honours his commitments, always looks out for his people. I’m incredibly proud to have worked with him as I know are all of his officers. I think that he was hired, several years ago by a previous commission, on the basis that he would drive transparency and seek change in the organization. I think Chief Chaffin was very clear when he commenced on that path that he knew that that would not be a popular undertaking but he undertook it anyway and I think there’s a nobility to that, I respect him for it and I thank him for his service,” said Thiessen.
Chaffin says he has mixed emotions and that he is handing in his badge for personal reasons.
“Had a good discussion with the commission about the reasons why and the aspirations for the service moving forward and looking forward now to helping the service and the commission work through the transition to the selection of the next chief. There’s always questions about why. I can tell you that it was a very deliberate process to make the decision. It was certainly a blend of personal reasons and professional reasons and I think it’s a good time for the organization to seek out new leadership to help advance us as we prepare for the next iteration of police in this community,” said Chaffin. “I’ll just make it clear, my decision was mine and mine alone.”
Chaffin says the force has been working on reform within the workplace and making employees feel safe and that the work will continue after he is gone.
“Policing has become a very difficult issue right now as you go to more complex calls, more accountability, more heightened, visible transparency, it’s important that our officers go out and feel that they are as prepared as possible for the enormous task they have and I think that’ll be some of the work going forward is to keep advancing that work and make sure we remain the service our community has become accustomed to. We’re positioning ourselves for the future not just the here and now.”
He says one of the biggest challenges the force is facing is rising crime rates and the presence of opioids in the community.
“I think it’s one of the things that is a difficulty for us is our ability to wrestle down these crime trends. It is not normal, they’re not the sort of things we have seen in the past and it requires persistence, perseverance and some innovation from our organization and the community to work through these problems so we can bring those numbers trending down to where we’d like to see them,” he said.
He says one of the biggest accomplishments was getting the government to look at reforming the Police Act.
“I think our community, our commission, our service really need a modern act. Something that speaks to a modern workplace, that speaks to the needs of employees, speaks to our economic conditions and speaks to our ability to not only be accountable but be more productive, more efficient, more effective in our delivery of services and that has been a very encouraging bit of news from our government to allow that process to begin and the next chief will have that to work with.”
Chaffin says he has been thinking about retiring for a while and that he does have some regrets.
“Yes, there’s always regrets, you can’t do this job and not feel that,” he said. “Every success you have is always sort of anchored by things that weren’t successful, things that didn’t work well so yeah, you’ll always grind on the things you wish you could’ve done better, people that you could have supported in a different way but that will be something I will reflect on in the future.”
The Commission says it will strike a search committee on July 31 to find a replacement for the position.