City police ignored policy in hiring unaccredited U.S. college: report

City police ignored policy in hiring unaccredited U.S. college: report

CPS spent $30,000 on the training, which was run by the unaccredited California-based College of Certified Psychophysiologists

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City police failed to follow its own policies when it paid an unaccredited U.S. college $30,000 for mental health-care training, says a civilian watchdog.

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In a report released this week, the Calgary police commission said an investigation conducted by an independent law firm hired by the CPS concluded the commission overlooked safeguards that would have prevented it from hiring California-based College of Certified Psychophysiologists in 2021.

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The commission said it became aware of the situation following a media report last September that described the college as fraudulent and that city police had already begun an internal review.

“The workplace investigation found that proper policies and processes were not followed during the relationship with the college,” states the commission’s report.

“While details on individual employee matters cannot be released publicly due to privacy laws, the service is taking the results of the investigation seriously and is ensuring employee accountability.”

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Proper process wasn’t followed, but investigation finds no evidence of criminal wrongdoing

The commission said three employees completed a Police Mental Health Certificate, 16 members attended a two-day course on Critical Incident Stress Debrief and two employees had enrolled in degree programs. Another CPS member was set to receive an honorary degree. 

It also noted CPS severed its relationship with the college on Aug. 31, 2022, when its internal investigation was launched.

In its report, the commission said the investigation reviewed by the RCMP found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Details of the investigation cannot be released as no charges were laid, but if there had been sufficient evidence of fraud or any other criminal acts committed against the Service, charges would have been pursued,” states the report.

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While the report concluded the payments to the college were accounted for, properly following tuition support for CPS members wasn’t done.

Had the proper process been followed, the college would have been properly screened,” it said.

‘It’s so sloppy and the CPS has to own the slop’: expert

It’s alarming that a policing organization dedicated to investigations would have failed to vet an unaccredited college, said Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King.

“It’s so sloppy and the CPS has to own the slop,” said King, adding potentially faulty treatment for conditions such as PTSD are troubling.

“It just reeks to me that there were no controls on really vital kinds of contracts.”

Historically, there’s been an eagerness among police services to have members without post-secondary backgrounds seek educational credentials, which can lead them to less-than-credible sources often based outside Canada, said King.

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Though hiring the college in this case would be outside Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld’s purview, “it ultimately falls down to leadership, the chain of command” and there should be accountability, he added.

The commission noted most CPS employees requiring mental health care are referred to external care professionals.

King said that’s not unusual and even understandable.

“Some officers wouldn’t want to go to an internal expert because of concerns over confidentiality, even if those concerns are unfounded,” he said.

“It could actually raise barriers to officers seeking help.”

Further independent review will address whether college’s instruction lacked religious neutrality

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In its report, the commission recommends the CPS ensure a consistent approach to training and finances, better scrutiny of degrees and qualifications, tightened requirements for corporate credit-card use and an expert advisory committee to screen mental-health education.

In a statement, the CPS said it has acted on those recommendations but wouldn’t say how those involved in the matter will be held accountable due to privacy issues.

“We can confirm we are taking this matter very seriously and are ensuring both personal and organizational accountability,” the statement said.

The CPS said some of those who have been credentialed by the college “did share training opportunities with the college with their colleagues.”

The commission said it’s satisfied CPS has taken corrective action but added it’s awaiting results from a further independent review to determine if any of the college’s instruction has negatively influenced wellness programs.

It’s also expected to address concerns the college’s instruction lacked religious neutrality, “given the connections some faculty members of the college had with police chaplaincy training programs.”

Results of the review are expected by late March.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn


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