Critics slam Calgary police chief’s ‘secret’ deal to rehire deputy

If there is nothing to worry about, why all the secrecy? Calgary Police Association President John Orr said.

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A deal that saw a Calgary deputy police chief retire then rehire a day later, netting him two pensions, was done in secret and casts a negative light on the police service, critics say.

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Last November, Calgary Police Service Chief Mark Neufeld agreed to provide a new contract for Deputy Chief Paul Cook, a position that will pay him nearly $250,000.

It appears to violate a Calgary city policy that prohibits staff from returning to work within 90 days unless a waiver is granted by human resources officials, say those who question the move.

The CPS said the new contract awarded to Cook, a well-respected 33-year service veteran, was made with proper legal guidance and simply brought the deputy chief’s status in line with his colleagues.

But the move has rankled service members who see it as an undue privilege at a time when the force is understaffed and “officers are trying to negotiate a contract,” the Calgary Police Association president said. , John Orr.

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“I know a number of our members are concerned: Base officers don’t have the ability to do what executive members have done, which is known as double dipping,” Orr said.

“If there’s nothing to worry about, then why the secrecy?”

He said Cook is now eligible for the Police Chiefs and Deputy Overcap Pension Plan, which is in addition to the Special Forces Pension Plan provided to all Calgary officers.

“No other city employee will have that pick-up and drop-off option,” Orr said.

Orr said he and his colleagues only learned of Cook’s rehire last spring, when details surfaced in an online file of the chief’s orders that he said has since been deleted.

John Orr, president of the Calgary Police Association.
John Orr, president of the Calgary Police Association. post media file

In a statement, the Calgary police commission, which provides civilian oversight, said its “chairman learned last week of an internal controversy surrounding a rumored employment agreement with a deputy chief.

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“We will request more information from the service to clarify what really happened and to determine if any further action is needed from us. Until we have all the information about what happened, we cannot comment further.”

The uncertainty expressed by the commission is a red flag, said Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King.

“The most shocking thing is that the commission was not aware of what was going on,” he said, adding that he believes Neufeld is a “highly ethical” person.

“You would think there would be better communication between the chief and the commission. . . appears to lack transparency.”

He said it’s not surprising that the settlement fuels resentment within the ranks of CPS and the general public.

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“It breeds cynicism towards senior leadership. It will make some say, ‘some are privileged and some are not,’” King said.

Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld is photographed on Monday, December 6, 2021.
Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld is photographed on Monday, December 6, 2021. Gavin Young/Post Media

But a CPS spokeswoman said the arrangement merely provided a contract for Cook, who previously did not have one.

“(It was) a historical anomaly that Chief Neufeld wanted to correct to align with modern best practice,” Emma Poole said in a statement.

“Chief Neufeld was not looking to hire a new deputy chief, he was simply aligning Deputy Chief Cook with other deputy chiefs, both within CPS and more generally who are also under contract.”

Because Cook was not paid a lump sum, it was a cost-neutral decision and was made with legal guidance, said Poole, who called the rehire routine CPS practice.

Poole said he could not comment on a report that Cook’s pension was between $800,000 and $1 million.

“Appropriate parties were notified of the intentions as part of this process. The settlement was structured to address any risks related to the 90-day rule,” he said, adding that Neufeld was under no obligation to notify the police commission.

The warrant was removed online because it was incorrectly posted in violation of a confidentiality agreement, it added.

Cook did not respond to a request for comment.

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Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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