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Letter to the Calgary Police Commissioners

Updated: Jan 30



This letter sent in August 2023 expressed concerns the Rocky Mountain Atheists have about recent events, particularly regarding training from the unaccredited College of Certified Psychophysiologists (CCP) and the qualifications of the resigned Executive Director for Wellness and Resiliency. RMA questions the potential influence on CPS procedures and the infusion of religion in training and treatment. We also critiqued the effectiveness of the chaplaincy's counselling and its potential conflict with religious neutrality in public institutions, given the diversity of beliefs. The Rocky Mountain Atheists advocate for accredited, secular counselling and call for religious neutrality in public entities like the CPS, emphasizing equal treatment for officers regardless of their beliefs. They assert that the responsibility lies with the Calgary Police Commissioners to establish and regularly review these policies.

This summary was created with the support of ChatGPT.


Updates


After the letter below was sent on September 12, 2023, we received a reply from Corwin Odland, Communications & Policy Director for the Calgary Police Commission, saying the topic would be added to their September Regular Meeting. On October 28, 2023, we contacted the Communications & Policy Director asking for a follow-up meeting with our group, which was replied to on November 8, 2023, saying "At this point, the work is still in process, so we are not in a position to share outcomes. I would also be happy to have a meeting to hear from your group as I support the Commission in developing policy on this issue, but just need to be clear that there is not much I can share on outcomes a this point.". On November 28, 2023, we asked again for a meeting, and, since there was no reply to this one, we proposed, on December 16, 2023, for a meeting early in 2024. There is still no reply to the last contacts.


On January 29, 2024, the Secular Connexion Séculière (SCS), who is also monitoring this situation, posted this to their website: SCS Monitors Religious Bias in Calgary Police Service.



Here is the full RMA letter:


Calgary Police Commissioners,


We, the Rocky Mountain Atheists, are a registered society located in Calgary. Our goals include providing a safe and supportive secular community and providing and promoting evidence-based learning opportunities.


As a society, we support the CPS and all its officers, religious and unaffiliated. Police officers face difficult situations on behalf of all Calgarians and they deserve proper support and treatment based on researched, proven scientific methods and a safe work environment that aligns with basic human rights requirements and protections. Police officers, in the line of duty, experience many situations that are known to cause PTSD, making the availability of effective counselling and evidence-based treatment necessary.


A confluence of several recent events and situations has caused us concern about the above-mentioned deserts. According to an article published by Global News, some individuals in the CPS received training from the unaccredited College of Certified Psychophysiologists (CCP), owned and managed by Robert Perkins, who has dubious credentials. We realize that all ties between CPS and Perkins and his CCP have been severed and that his methods have not been incorporated into CPS documents. However, to what extent have his improper methods seeped into unwritten procedures? Have those individuals who received training from CCP been retrained in proven, scientific methods?


Other news articles revealed that the recently resigned Executive Director for Wellness and Resiliency, Stacey Ferland, had received a Ph.D. from the College of Certified Psychophysiologists while at CPS. The article also stated that she had received a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the unaccredited, online, St. James the Elder Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, Florida, whose website advertises that their program offers “Clinical Psychology with a Christian World View.” In fact, the only degrees that the seminary offers are masters and PhD degrees in clinical psychology or religion. When Ferland was the Executive Director at CPS, who did she hire and what are their credentials? How much religion did she infuse into the training and treatment of CPS personnel? Have the people that she trained or treated received proper retraining or treatment after Ferland left?

Another source of ineffective, untrained, often counterproductive counselling is the chaplaincy. Although volunteer chaplains mean well, they have no skills or training in the treatment of PTSD or similar, serious conditions. In addition, Alberta Human Rights states that “In order to uphold respect for the diversity of religious beliefs that exist in Alberta, public institutions such as hospitals and non-denominational schools must remain neutral by not showing preference for any one particular religion.” “The human rights goals of equality and respect for diversity are upheld when government institutions are kept neutral.” To complicate the situation even more, Stats Canada reports that more than one-third (34.6%) of the population is religiously unaffiliated. If the CPS is representative of the Canadian population, then one-third of the officers are not being supported by the chaplaincy at all. In fact, many members of the Rocky Mountain Atheists are painfully aware that some people are seriously triggered by religious counselling and/or being in or near a chapel. We realize that the chapel in the CPS headquarters has been renamed but a name does not change the appearance or use of the chapel. It is a chapel. Is there really any place for a religious chapel in a government institution?


The Rocky Mountain Atheists are convinced that all sources of counselling for CPS officers and staff must be from professionals who have degrees from accredited institutions and who have been trained in secular, evidence-based methods. We also hold that any and all public institutions, including the CPS, must be religiously neutral. There should be no hint of any religious bias, one way or another. Officers and staff who have any belief or no belief, must have equal opportunities and be treated the same. We believe that it is the duty of the Calgary Police Commissioners to ensure that these policies be put in place and be reviewed regularly.


If you would like to speak with a representative of the Rocky Mountain Atheist board, we will be glad to accept. Please send your request to info@rockymountainatheists.ca.


Thank you for your consideration,


Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Atheists


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