By Jensen, Randy on April 8, 2020.
The Lethbridge Police Association says despite some lingering ill effects on its membership from former Lethbridge Chief of Police Rob Davis’ tenure in office, the body is committed to working together with the Lethbridge Police Service’s current executive to put its best foot forward during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The relationship between the members as a whole and the previous chief of police was not a healthy relationship, it was counter-productive, and can fairly be described as a toxic relationship,” says LPA president Jay McMillan. “After he leaves things don’t heal overnight. The healing process for our members takes some time, and will continue to take some time. I do think there is an effort on the part of management, and I know there is an effort on the part of labour and the police association and its members, to repair that relationship and find a way to work together co-operatively moving forward.
“I think the members in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis have really stepped up both for each other and the community. I think the response they have given to this crisis is admirable.”
While still dealing with chronic manpower shortages due to about 14 per cent of the police service already on stress or medical leave, the COVID-19 crisis has only added to that burden as members have had to take turns self-isolating after potential exposures to the disease, says McMillan. But he is proud of the way officers have stepped up to help the community in spite of these shortages.
“Certainly we have needed help, and when the crisis beset us the need for that help has only amplified,” McMillan says. “Our members are managing to the best of their abilities, and assuming quite a load in doing so.
“It’s 100 per cent commitment to duty,” he adds. “People are making sacrifices in their personal lives. We have had a number of members who have voluntarily cancelled their holidays to come in and serve their community.”
McMillan says a crisis like this necessitates a unified response from all members of the police service, and pushes a lot of the politics onto the back burner for the time being.
“I think you have to,” he states. “That’s the nature of a crisis: it forces people to come together and find some ways forward. And I think we have done that here at the police service between the executive and the association. We are trying to work together to make things manageable.”
McMillan is hopeful this crisis situation will serve as a good reminder to his members, the LPS executive, and to the broader community of the importance of a strong, unified and healthy local police service.
“Aside from this crisis, there are things internally as an organization we need to work on,” he acknowledges. “The healing process takes time, and it’s a work in progress. But I think everybody wants to get to the same spot and work together. We just need to learn, and find a way to do that.”
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