Recognized as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 3, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Saskatoon Police Service was selected as one of Saskatchewan's Top Employers (2021):
- Saskatoon Police Service supports a number of community and charitable organizations throughout the year, in addition to encouraging employees to get involved in their local community with paid time off to volunteer (a total of 2,000 volunteer hours were donated on paid time in the past year)
- Saskatoon Police Service offers training and development for individuals at various stages of their career, from in-house apprenticeships and paid internships for young people to mentoring and tuition subsidies for employees looking to further develop their skills
- Saskatoon Police Service supports new mothers with maternity leave top-up payments (to 95 per cent of salary for 17 weeks) and offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence -- employees with older children may also apply for post-secondary academic scholarships, to $1,000 per child
Saskatoon Police Service puts officer safety first
In 2014, the Saskatoon Police Service moved into a new headquarters designed to accommodate a growing workforce. That proved to be an unexpected advantage when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.
“We’re not facing the same constraints as a police service operating in a building that is 30 or 40 years old,” says Clae Hack, executive director of corporate strategy and performance. “We have the luxury of a little extra space.”
That said, the service still had to make numerous adjustments, big and small. Employees in some administrative departments worked from home between mid-March and early May, but since then most have returned to the office, with plexiglass barriers between physically distanced desks.
“We’ve had senior managers with tape measures checking distances between desks,” says Hack. “In certain areas where proper social distancing isn’t possible we are continuing to have people work from home.”
Frontline officers patrolling the community have also had to adapt. “Policing involves a lot of face-to-face contact with people,” says Kelsie Fraser, senior coordinator of public relations and strategic communications. “Like a lot of other organizations, we’ve had to come up with different ways of doing business.”
Officers now wear face masks any time they interact with the public and, in higher risk situations, they wear goggles and latex gloves. The service also decided to handle low-priority calls, such as noise complaints, over the phone rather than by dispatching an officer.
Such measures have proved effective. Eight months into the pandemic, frontline officers had remained free of infection and only one civilian member of the service had contracted COVID-19.
Communication has been a critical part of the service’s response. “Our executive team has done a great job providing daily updates and answers to frequently asked questions so that our employees feel informed,” says Fraser. “We’ve also done multiple videos with the chief, which were posted to social media so that the public understands the changes.”
The service normally operates a number of community outreach programs for youth, women and girls interested in policing and for victims of crime. “We’re doing what we can to maintain those relationships through virtual or socially distanced meetings,” says Hack.
The chief normally meets regularly with local elders who sit on the Indigenous Advisory Committee. “The relationship is still important and the chief is looking at different ways of maintaining it,” says Hack. “He’s had to hold smaller meetings or one-on-one conversations over the phone.”