Calgary to host international women in policing conference

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Calgary Police Service Westwinds headquarters.

Calgary will host hundreds of delegates from around the world next week for the International Association of Women Police conference.

Organizers of this year’s event, which takes place at the BMO Centre from Aug. 26 to 30, say the theme of the five-day conference is “Leading Change.” More than 650 delegates from 35 countries will attend the gathering.

Delegates will hear from speakers from police services in countries such as Norway, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Ghana, Australia and New Zealand, and topics on the agenda include respect, bullying and harassment, diversity and inclusion, recruiting and employee retention, and organizational change.

The conference will also feature keynote speakers Amanda Lindhout, Sheldon Kennedy, Chief Jennifer Evans of the Peel Regional Police and Canadian Olympic gold medallist Caroline Ouellette.

Conference co-directors described the international association as “a leader in empowering and supporting women in law enforcement.”

“We look forward to engaging in important discussion and sharing the information we learn with the rest of the Service,” Calgary police staff sergeants Sueanne Ford and Bev Voros said in a news release Thursday. According to Calgary police, the event has been organized during the past year by a committee of volunteers who are members of the Calgary Police Service.

Some of the local speakers scheduled are Calgary police constable and former speed skater Cindy Klassen, Const. Tad Milmine, and Linda Crockett and Pat Ferris of the Alberta Bullying Research, Resources and Recovery Centre.

Former Calgary police officer Jen Magnus will lead a session on trauma-informed interviewing. Magnus announced her resignation at a police commission meeting last year, citing bullying and harassment in the workplace. She now runs a consulting firm on workplace issues related to the safety of employees.

Magnus said before she left the service, she worked to bring the conference to Calgary and helped to choose some of the topics highlighted at the event.

“I didn’t want us to shy away from bullying and harassment in the police,” she said. “I think it is good because … a lot of police organizations tend to hide that. They don’t want it out in the open, they don’t want it spoken about, and I think with RCMP, Waterloo and the Calgary police it’s important that we talk about the elephant in the room.”

This is the first time the international conference, now in its 56th year, will be held in Calgary. The International Association of Women Police was established in Los Angeles in 1915 with the aim of providing professional development, mentoring and training for female law enforcement officers. The organization has members in more than 60 countries.

The conference will launch with a parade starting outside city hall on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

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