In an undated editorial from fall 2022 in a quarterly publication from the Alberta Federation of Police Associations, Chris Young, the president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations and a vice president with the Calgary Police Association, wrote an editorial titled “Political Leaders Need to be Responsible” where he calls out a city councillor and makes several extraordinary statements.
Screenshot from the fall 2022 edition of Police Beat featuring Curtis Young's editorial.
“The lack of support for the police and the pushing of hatred towards police has hindered the police ability to make Calgary a safe place for all,” said Young.
The local police commission disagrees. “To say that Calgary’s crime trends are directly related to negative public commentary about the police is an oversimplification. The Calgary Police Service struggled to train enough recruits over the past few years due to COVID-19 health measures, creating vacancies. There have also been other significant events, like the COVID-19 pandemic and Calgary’s economic challenges, that impact crime and disorder trends,” said a spokesperson for the Calgary Police Commission.
Young also blames a 30 per cent nationwide homicide increase in the US on the decision of three US cities to ‘defund the police,’ which experts dispute even happened.
“There were some police budget reductions in the 2021 budget year but the ones this author is referring to are tiny. Minneapolis cut their police budget by $1 million. Seattle cut theirs by $3 million. Chicago said they were going to defund the police and then didn’t. He’s suggesting that a $1 million reduction in one city and a $3 million reduction in another city caused a spike in murder rates across the country which is ridiculous and false,” said Ted Rutland, a professor at Concordia University who studies policing in Canadian cities.
“There is no credibility, no truth to any of these claims but they get circulated. But who's going to fact check the police association magazine?” said Rutland.
The editorial also references statements made by a particular municipal politician, though Young doesn’t mention them by name.
“The politician stated he is not concerned about the majority of Calgarians, but rather he is concerned with the minority; the 5 to 6%,” said Young. “I also wonder if this goal of representing the minority is being pursued in the most effective way.”
Councillor Courtney Walcott, who also sits on the police commission, believes Young is referring to statements Walcott made at a police commission meeting.
“I challenged the CPS Executive Leadership Team to consider the “other” at all times rather than becoming complacent in an approval rating. I asked them to challenge themselves to be better. I didn’t know that would be controversial for the president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations.”
Young spends a lot of time in the editorial criticising activists who, according to him, are not only hurting the vulnerable they are purporting to help but also fomenting hate towards police officers, as well as engaging in ‘reverse racism.’
“These extreme activists believe in a socialist utopia that simply does not exist and has been proven throughout history to not work at all. The political and community leaders that align themselves with such extremists jeopardize their own credibility with the majority of Calgarians in my opinion. If you are in a leadership position, irresponsibility can have some extremely negative consequences,” said Young.
“Advocating for shelter and affordable housing, expanded public health programs, and mental health supports is not utopian. It is simply advocating for the correct responses to the appropriate problems,” said Walcott. “If the author finds this vision threatening, they are likely misunderstanding their own function and role in society.”
Young writes that, “Calgarians dislike drama, and they despise the politicians that create it. They are concerned about public safety, and they see the irresponsibility of their political leaders as the cause of the factors jeopardizing safety. If the goal is to truly assist the minority and vulnerable, then the plan of action and approach needs to change. The politicians and leaders in Calgary need to be responsible and work with the police.”
Calgary city council increased the budget for the Calgary Police Service by $6 million in 2021 and approved a $34 million increase over four years as well as $77 million in capital spending during budget deliberations last November. By 2026 the Calgary Police Service budget is expected to crest $582 million, the single largest line item in the municipal budget. This budget increase was not debated by city council.
According to Rutland it’s important to remember why police associations exist. “They are trying to continue to get more resources for police departments, higher salaries for their members, higher pensions for their members. So it’s interesting that police associations and brotherhoods across Canada are saying that city councils are hostile to police.That they’re making it harder for police to do their job regardless of who’s in power and what they’re doing. They’ll even say this about John Tory, a lifelong Conservative who loves the police.”
Young references anti-police activists spewing hate and racism throughout the article and says that activists even “targeted anyone who is not a person of colour,” without offering up any examples. Young’s editorial closes with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.”
Walcott thinks this shows a poor understanding, “and a serious lack of depth of knowledge in the work and writings of Martin Luther King Jr. Some suggested reading I might offer: Dr King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
Chris Young and the Calgary Police Association did not respond to our request for comment.