Newly sworn-in Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld says no officer comes to work anticipating involvement in a fatal shooting.But if it happens, Neufeld told Postmedia in an editorial board meeting on Friday, that it’s a priority to show his support for those officers.During his first three weeks in office as Calgary’s top cop, Neufeld attended the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting as part of his commitment to boost morale on the force.“I think it’s really important to be able to go to those places. That was a traumatic incident,” he said, noting he didn’t want to diminish the fact that a woman lost her life.“Our officers are very competent; they’re well trained, well equipped. But, I need them to be confident, too,” he said. “Officers need to do what they need to do and realize if (they’re) a good officer that’s doing a good job and coming from a good place, (they) are going to be supported.”Inspiring confidence among the force is just one of a handful of commitments Neufeld has made during his first few weeks as chief.Other priorities for him include meeting his service members and analyzing the unique struggles impacting Calgary and its residents — everything from gun violence, homicides, domestic violence and drug usage.Neufeld was sworn in at the beginning of June during a change of command ceremony attended by hundreds of police service members, public officials and citizens.
The Calgary Police Service held its Change of Command ceremony between Chief Constable Steve Barlow, right and incoming Chief Constable Mark Neufeld at the Calgary Central Library on Monday, June 10, 2019. Gavin Young/Postmedia
The police chief said he is wary of assuming he understands the intricacies of crime in the city and said there are two challenges he will face moving forward.The first is understanding the emerging issues as a newcomer to Calgary and the second is building trust with his team.“Coming from the outside, I need to make sure I have time to spend inside, meeting the employees and building a little bit of credibility and a little bit of trust as well because I think for anything we’re going to do going forward, you know, I have to have that,” said Neufeld. “It’s trying to manage my own time and energy in a way that I don’t get pulled into the day-to-day without actually working on that piece and developing those relationships.”So far, the new chief has been jumping from district to district, meeting as many officers as he can before and after work. It’s there where he said he is hearing honest conversations about the state of the department and what issues he needs to engage in moving forward.“I don’t want to be reactive with what I see in three weeks. I want to actually hear from people who have been here for a long time, which I think has a lot to do with building that credibility,” he said.“We’ll have no end of issues to tackle in policing because our business lines are so broad, but it will really be about what our priorities can be and what we can do well.”Internally, Neufeld said he will also address concerns around a culture of bullying and harassment within the force, which came to light three years ago, by ensuring people’s input is solicited and valued.This will include encouraging women to apply for leadership roles and creating a culture that is “good, strong and inclusive” to encourage diversity.In the meantime, the service is reviewing its budget to see where cuts can be made to address the city’s tax revenue shortfall, while also conducting a review to determine if resources are being distributed in accordance with firstname.lastname@example.orgOn Twitter: @alanna_smithh