OPP is suffering from a ‘mental-health crisis’

Suicides among OPP officers are higher than on-duty deaths. Moreover, OPP does not formally keep track of the number of officers that have taken their own lives.

OPP is suffering from a ‘mental-health crisis’

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 11, 2020 2:58 am

OPP is suffering from a ‘mental-health crisis’ report says, citing 17 officer suicides since 2012

Seventeen Ontario Provincial Police officers have killed themselves since 2012, according to a newly released report that says the country’s second-largest police force is suffering from a “mental-health crisis."

Three independent commissioners who have spent nearly a year looking at the OPP’s workplace culture are urging the force to dismantle a perceived “old boys’ network" atop the organization.

It also recommends bolstering badly needed supports for officers.

“There is currently one psychologist on contract working within the OPP, in an organization that is grappling with a mental-health crisis,” the report says, calling this “patently insufficient.”

The OPP Independent Review Panel’s 91-page report, based on surveys of thousands of officers, does not go into any details about how or why any of the officer suicides took place. But rank-and-file officers said they are overworked and some accused their commanders of bullying, the report says.

“This is a critical moment in the OPP’s workplace culture. There are significant issues that demand immediate attention,” the report says, adding that "this is the moment to effect transformational culture change inside the OPP, for the good of its members and the public they serve.”

The stakes for the police force’s nearly 9,000 employee are high. The OPP patrols Ontario’s highways and First Nations communities, and its detectives investigate organized-crime groups, outlaw bikers and child-exploitation rings.

In recent years, several suicides by officers have cast the OPP’s workplace culture into public attention. The Progressive Conservative government hired three prominent Ontarians to delve into how officers at the force perceived their own organization.

The former deputy attorney-general Murray Segal, the former chief justice Douglas Cunningham and former cabinet minister Dave Cooke spent nine months looking at the OPP’s culture. But even as they started their work, more tragedies occurred. “There were three subsequent deaths by suicide in 2019,” said OPP spokeswoman Carolle Dionne.

The overall figure of 17 suicides in eight years includes four OPP officers who died as retirees. Earlier reports from Ontario’s coroner and by the OPP have also looked at the issue of police suicides.

The panel finished its report in December, but the government released it to the public only on Monday. The same day, Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones travelled to the police force’s headquarters in Orillia. Meeting with police officers, she issued a statement emphasizing that her government has already started working to fix problems.

The panel itself struck a less sanguine tone. The report suggests that the OPP leaders must effect a sea change in attitudes, so that ordinary officers can start to seek help without feeling like they are risking their careers or appearing weak.

Several obstacles still stand in the way, according to the report:

· The OPP has “a negative workplace culture.” Half of the employees who responded to a survey said they experienced bullying, harassment, discrimination or rejection in in the past year, but rarely reported such incidents;

· Dangerous work, staff shortages and work-related stresses are combining to create “unprecedented” numbers of officers off-duty to the point that one in every five OPP officers is on some form of leave;

· The promotion process is seen as compromised, with the officers complaining of “incidents of nepotism and cronyism in management hiring that sustained the ‘old boys’ network.’ ”


Police, firefighters and paramedics are in crisis across all of Canada, says Bill Rusk, the executive director of Badge of Life Canada, which connects police officers with mental-health care. “It’s not a new issue but it’s one that light has finally been shone on,” Mr. Rusk said.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... -citing-1/
Thomas, Administrator

User avatar
Thomas
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Canada

Head of Ontario police asks for government help to deal with

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:01 am

Head of Ontario police asks for government help to deal with officer suicides and toxic workplace culture

The chief of the Ontario Provincial Police says he is overhauling his organization and asking the provincial government for more officer supports in response to a report saying the force suffers from a “mental-health crisis.”

Since 2012, 17 OPP officers have killed themselves – including three in the past year – prompting the government to hire an independent panel to examine the issue. Relying upon the impressions of thousands of surveyed OPP officers, the final report released Monday describes the police force’s nearly 9,000 employees as being part of an overly burdened organization that’s beset by “a negative workplace culture.”

“I currently have a request before the province for clinicians to provide services to our members,” OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.

The report said the OPP has only one staff psychologist even though it is "grappling with a mental-health crisis.” Complaints of bullying, nepotism and cronyism are rife among the rank and file, the report says, adding that "an old boys’ network” is seen to hold sway.

Commissioner Carrique, who joined the OPP last spring, says he accepts the stark criticism. “It was a very thorough analysis of the feelings, opinions, experiences of the people in the organization – so I have to take those terms to heart,” he said.

The Progressive Conservative government picked him as provincial police commander partly because he was seen as an outsider who could effect change, having spent his career at York Regional Police, north of Toronto.

Commissioner Carrique said he has been privy to the report’s core findings for months and he implemented some recommended changes before the final version was complete.

For example, one key recommendation is the creation of a Healthy Workplace Bureau as a standalone OPP unit to support officers and promote their mental health – and this has already been done. “It’s an actual bureau that is functioning,” Commissioner Carrique said.

The OPP’s senior command team has also changed in the past year, he said, through promotional processes that rewarded qualities that could help address the concerns of officers.

“In the last six months, we’ve had the opportunity to promote three new deputy commissioners,” Commissioner Carrique said. He said the selection of these senior commanders, and others, took into account “their compassion, their empathy, and their proven experience in terms of supporting officers in the organization.”

Commissioner Carrique says he has been travelling across Ontario to encourage OPP officers to talk to support groups about their problems. He vowed to listen to complaints about the culture. "Since the day I have arrived, they have been examined,” he said. “And they will continue to be examined.”

The independent panel also highlighted that staffing levels are a huge concern within the police force, given that one in every five officers is now on a form of leave.

Last year, the PC government reduced the OPP’s $1.2-billion annual budget by nearly $50-million.

Commissioner Carrique said he is seeking more overall funding, but did not specify an amount. “We also have a request in right now for an increase in resources.” Ontario’s budget is scheduled for release on March 25.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/ ... h-officer/
Thomas, Administrator

User avatar
Thomas
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Canada

Re: OPP is suffering from a ‘mental-health crisis’

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:03 am

Back in November, Jeff Harmer, an OPP staff sergeant who worked in the forensic identification unit at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia, took his own life.

It was believed to be the 14th death by suicide from within the OPP ranks in the last few years.

The death of the 50-year-old father of two left the tight-knit policing community reeling - again.

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique, who assumed the helm of the 9,000-member organization 11 months ago, has pledged to improve the culture of the organization to ensure things improve and to ensure officers and civilians have the support they need.

“It’s absolutely the priority of mine as commissioner and the priority of our entire leadership team right across the province,” said Carrique, following a press conference Monday at General Headquarters.

“We are seeing an evolution of policing culture” happening across North America, noted Carrique, adding the process of changing a culture within a policing organization is not easy and will take time.

Carrique joined Ontario’s Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones, and Rob Jamieson, the president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) to announce the findings of an independent review panel which examined the OPP’s workplace culture and “how the force addresses staff mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members.”

The panel was established in April of 2019. Some of the report’s primary recommendations include:

- Making health and wellness an organizational priority;

- Fostering new leadership and leadership skills training; and

- Developing programs that de-stigmatize stress and mental health issues.

“Occupational stress injuries can take a horrible toll on our first responders ... and when they choose to take their own life we know much more needs to be done,” said Jones.

She said the panel’s report is “critical to assist changes we are making to ensure a healthier, more positive and supportive workplace within the OPP.”

Jones said the province has also supported the OPPA to implement a new mental health support program that will help “the OPP and their families cope with work-related stress and injuries.”

She noted “42 of the review panel’s 66 recomendations are complete, near complete or well underway.”

“The independent review panel also identified the need for increased number of members available for operational positions with attention to the most critical shortages … (and) this is something our government is working on,” said Jones.

Carrique lauded the process and said the panel’s findings “corroborate” findings from its own internal reviews.

“Our leadership team is committed to learning from our past, meaningfully engaging in the present and taking responsibility for creating a better future for our members and their families,” said Carrique, noting they have listened to their members.

As a result, the OPP, he said, has “improved access to services and removed barriers” to help.

For example, Carrique said the OPP has created a “healthy workplace bureau that reports directly to the commissioner’s command team and is overseeing the implementation of the recommendations from the various reviews.”

He also noted new working groups have been established to “address an organizational response to officer suicides, the removal and return of use-of-force equipment, accommodations and return to work processes.”

He also said training would be enhanced among other issues. But he also conceded that leadership and trust are critical to the process.

It's the OPP leadership's "responsibility to look after those who risk it all to look after our communities and protect our citizens," Carrique stressed.

“It also comes down to building trust,” said Carrique, who said many positive steps have been taken since he became commissioner. “Today is a big step.”

Jamieson agreed.

“It is a big step,” said Jamieson, noting it takes courage to “address years of organizational issues and throw it out there in the public domain.”

While difficult, it’s necessary, he stressed.

“We owe it to the widows, the spouses, the family members and to our members,” he said.

Jamieson said he has high hopes staffing levels will be addressed by the province.

“I am very pleased to see provincial staffing levels addressed” in the panel’s report, Jamieson said, adding “the link between wellness and staffing shortages is irrefutable.”

After the media conference, he said staffing shortages and burnout of front-line officers and civilians alike are linked to mental health issues.

“We know we are down hundreds and hundreds of people across the province,” he said of OPP staff reductions. “That has a huge effect on mental health and on the well-being of our people.”

He noted Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Jones have been “incredibly supportive” and added, “we anticipate, from investments they’re making, that will help us with staffing.”

https://www.bradfordtoday.ca/local-news ... ty-2149279
Thomas, Administrator

User avatar
Thomas
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Canada

OPP suicides/workplace culture complaints spur changes

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:04 am

Forty-two of 66 recommendations are being implemented: OPP

The province says it is taking steps to improve the workplace culture within the OPP and better support the mental health of its staff.

“Occupational stress injuries can take a horrible toll on our first responders, and when they choose to take their own life, we know much more needs to be done,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said during an event at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia.

Recent measures undertaken by the province and OPP include establishing strategies to support members when they return to work after a leave of absence, and creating an organization-wide response to suicides that includes support to families and colleagues.

These and other actions are being implemented in response to recommendations in the final report of the Ontario Provincial Police Independent Review Panel.

The panel was established in April 2019 to examine the OPP's workplace culture and how the force addresses mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members.

“The OPP is committed to making meaningful changes for our members, who are dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of our province,” Commissioner Thomas Carrique said. “With an organization of nearly 9,000 members deployed across Ontario, it will take leadership, time and support to get things right.”

The deaths of OPP members by suicide, as well as complaints about the workplace culture by active and former staff, prompted the creation of the panel.

It met with the commissioner, member associations, and current and former staff who shared personal experiences and insights, along with families of members who died by suicide.

Forty-two of the panel’s 66 recommendations are now in place — including leadership training that focuses on fostering a "people-centred" approach and promotes an inclusive workplace.

The work builds on steps taken by the province and the Ontario Provincial Police Association to create an integrated mental health support program to help OPP personnel and their families deal with work-related stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The provincially funded program is expected to be operational later this year.

A recommendation by the panel to increase staffing levels provincially was welcome, said Rob Jamieson, president of the OPPA.

“The link between wellness and staffing shortages is irrefutable,” Jamieson said.

https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/98804 ... r-changes/
Thomas, Administrator

User avatar
Thomas
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Canada

Changes to come in wake of review into provincial police wor

Postby Thomas » Wed Mar 11, 2020 3:05 am

Changes to come in wake of review into provincial police workplace culture

ORILLIA, Ont. -- A government-appointed panel said it has heard from frontline officers about widespread bullying and harassment within the Ontario Provincial Police, delivering a report Monday that offers dozens of recommendations aimed at bolstering those workers' mental health.

Those findings come in a long-anticipated report commissioned last May by the province, after persistent complaints about the OPP's workplace culture and the death by suicide of 17 members of the service since 2012.

The three-member panel said it surveyed and met with thousands of current and former OPP members and more than half said they had experienced bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

"The panel heard repeatedly and accepts the views of members that there is a negative workplace culture with the OPP that, in some locations, tolerates bullying, and harassment, and that overall the OPP does not have the necessary tools to respond appropriately to conflict," the report said.

The group -- made up of former associate chief justice of Ontario Douglas Cunningham, former deputy attorney general Murray Segal and former cabinet minister David Cooke -- was put together in May 2019.

It spent months gathering more than 5,100 submissions from active and former OPP members, conducting roundtables, and meeting with the family members of officers who have died by suicide.

Its findings -- and 66 recommendations -- suggest the force's leadership must do more to provide access to mental health supports, re-introduce accountability and transparency to its promotions process, and address workplace culture.

"It is clear to us that OPP leadership faces an immediate and significant challenge with respect to the workplace culture and health of the organization," the panel writes in its report. "In particular, the lack of credible, accessible and meaningful support for members with mental health issues is approaching crisis."

The panel also said the OPP must move to restore frontline officers' faith in leadership, and their selection.

"The panel heard about common incidents of nepotism and cronyism in management hiring that sustained the 'old boys' network,"' the report said. "The panel heard about both real and perceived bias in the process."

Ontario's solicitor general said Monday the government and provincial police are making changes that will allow for an improved workplace culture and mental health supports for officers.

Sylvia Jones said the government and OPP are taking action to implement more than 40 of the recommendations, while exploring an additional 24.

"No one should be apprehensive about going to work because they don't feel adequately supported," Jones said. "This is simply unacceptable. I'm confident the changes put in place and those currently underway will improve the workplace culture at the OPP, resulting in a healthier, more supportive work environment for everyone."

The OPP said Monday it has created a healthy workplace team to focus on its members, and leadership training will now focus on promoting a healthy and inclusive workplace.

The police service is also establishing new strategies to support members when they return to work after a leave of absence, and supporting families and colleagues after member suicides.

Commissioner Thomas Carrique said together with the government and the police union, the force can make changes to work toward a healthy and inclusive workplace.

"The OPP is committed to making meaningful changes for our members, who are dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of our province. With an organization of nearly 9,000 members deployed across Ontario, it will take leadership, time and support to ensure we get things right," Carrique said in a statement.

The Ontario Provincial Police Association last year created a mental health support program to help OPP personnel and their families deal with work-related stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2020.

https://www.cp24.com/news/changes-to-co ... -1.4845565
Thomas, Administrator

User avatar
Thomas
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Canada

OPP commissioner says improving workplace culture is 'the pr

Postby Thomas » Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:23 am

OPP commissioner says improving workplace culture is 'the priority'

Back in November, Jeff Harmer, an OPP staff sergeant who worked in the forensic identification unit at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia, took his own life.

It was believed to be the 14th death by suicide from within the OPP ranks in the last few years.

The death of the 50-year-old father of two left the tight-knit policing community reeling - again.

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique, who assumed the helm of the 9,000-member organization 11 months ago, has pledged to improve the culture of the organization to ensure things improve and to ensure officers and civilians have the support they need.

“It’s absolutely the priority of mine as commissioner and the priority of our entire leadership team right across the province,” said Carrique, following a press conference Monday at General Headquarters.

“We are seeing an evolution of policing culture” happening across North America, noted Carrique, adding the process of changing a culture within a policing organization is not easy and will take time.

Carrique joined Ontario’s Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones, and Rob Jamieson, the president of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) to announce the findings of an independent review panel which examined the OPP’s workplace culture and “how the force addresses staff mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members.”

The panel was established in April of 2019. Some of the report’s primary recommendations include:

- Making health and wellness an organizational priority;

- Fostering new leadership and leadership skills training; and

- Developing programs that de-stigmatize stress and mental health issues.

“Occupational stress injuries can take a horrible toll on our first responders ... and when they choose to take their own life we know much more needs to be done,” said Jones.

She said the panel’s report is “critical to assist changes we are making to ensure a healthier, more positive and supportive workplace within the OPP.”

Jones said the province has also supported the OPPA to implement a new mental health support program that will help “the OPP and their families cope with work-related stress and injuries.”

She noted “42 of the review panel’s 66 recomendations are complete, near complete or well underway.”

“The independent review panel also identified the need for increased number of members available for operational positions with attention to the most critical shortages … (and) this is something our government is working on,” said Jones.

Carrique lauded the process and said the panel’s findings “corroborate” findings from its own internal reviews.

“Our leadership team is committed to learning from our past, meaningfully engaging in the present and taking responsibility for creating a better future for our members and their families,” said Carrique, noting they have listened to their members.

As a result, the OPP, he said, has “improved access to services and removed barriers” to help.

For example, Carrique said the OPP has created a “healthy workplace bureau that reports directly to the commissioner’s command team and is overseeing the implementation of the recommendations from the various reviews.”

He also noted new working groups have been established to “address an organizational response to officer suicides, the removal and return of use-of-force equipment, accommodations and return to work processes.”

He also said training would be enhanced among other issues. But he also conceded that leadership and trust are critical to the process.

It's the OPP leadership's "responsibility to look after those who risk it all to look after our communities and protect our citizens," Carrique stressed.

“It also comes down to building trust,” said Carrique, who said many positive steps have been taken since he became commissioner. “Today is a big step.”

Jamieson agreed.

“It is a big step,” said Jamieson, noting it takes courage to “address years of organizational issues and throw it out there in the public domain.”

While difficult, it’s necessary, he stressed.

“We owe it to the widows, the spouses, the family members and to our members,” he said.

Jamieson said he has high hopes staffing levels will be addressed by the province.

“I am very pleased to see provincial staffing levels addressed” in the panel’s report, Jamieson said, adding “the link between wellness and staffing shortages is irrefutable.”

After the media conference, he said staffing shortages and burnout of front-line officers and civilians alike are linked to mental health issues.

“We know we are down hundreds and hundreds of people across the province,” he said of OPP staff reductions. “That has a huge effect on mental health and on the well-being of our people.”

He noted Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Jones have been “incredibly supportive” and added, “we anticipate, from investments they’re making, that will help us with staffing.”

https://www.bradfordtoday.ca/local-news ... ty-2149279
Thomas, Administrator

User avatar
Thomas
Site Admin
 
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:18 pm
Location: Canada


Return to Suicides

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron