Under each area of focus – prevention, intervention and suppression – we currently have a number of initiatives underway. The main goal of each initiative is to lessen violence and violent crime – especially as it relates to our city’s vulnerable people.
As we determine the impact of each initiative over time, we will modify, add or subtract initiatives. Many of the current initiatives are refined based on the experience and feedback from officers, stakeholders and Edmonton’s communities.
The best way to lessen violence and violent crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Some of our immediate initiatives include:
Street Safety Guide
This guide provides vulnerable people with additional tools to stay safe. Police officers hand out this guide to many people, including homeless, addicted, and mentally ill persons. It includes a listing of social service agencies and safety tips.
Vulnerable Person Strategy
Once someone has been victimized, they are at an increased risk to be victimized again. Our Vulnerable Persons Strategy focuses prevention and intervention initiatives on people most at risk of re-victimization.
Edged weapons, such as knives, are a main factor in the degree of harm experienced during many violent encounters.
We aim to lessen the number of edged weapons on Edmonton’s streets. To do that, we charge people with possession and use of edged weapons during criminal offences. We laid 2% more edged weapon charges in 2012 over 2011. It’s hoped that this deterrence approach will continue to result in a decrease both in assaults and levels of harm.
Weekly Crime and Disorder Update
We provide citizens and media with regular updates and information about crime trends and patterns. Everyone can use this information to keep communities informed and safe.
We also provide up-to-date information through Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
We are always working to disrupt inappropriate behaviours of social disorder. But, once a violent act or crime occurs, we want to make sure we provide the best assistance to the victim(s). Three of the immediate initiatives include:
Victim Services Team
This program provides additional follow-up and safety plans for victims of domestic violence. It goes over and above the specialized Domestic Violence Intervention Teams currently in place.
We also partner with Capital Health Edmonton Area to provide the Police and Crisis Team (PACT). The team provides on-site assessments and intervention for people with psychiatric problems currently experiencing a crisis.
Assessment, Sobering and Care Collaboration
This concept would provide 24-7 access to a facility for our most vulnerable people. Here, they would receive assessment and assistance in implementing a personalized long-term care program.
The first step in this collaboration is the Heavy Users of Services Pilot Project.
Community Action Team (CAT)
This mobile team moves into distressed places and communities to address disorder and violence using suppression, intervention and prevention tactics.
The team continues to be the most visible form of police response into high crime and disorder areas. The majority of CAT’s deployments have been into downtown communities.
Annually, the team has almost 24,000 interactions with the public. They hold people accountable for their behaviour; in 2012, they made more than 500 arrests and issued more than 1700 warrants.
At the same time, they provide intervention and services necessary to change someone’s life course. CAT works with a variety of community partners, resulting in many positive changes. As an example, they have found housing for more than 40 street people.
Slowing or stopping violence and violent acts is also key to the strategy. Some of the immediate initiatives include:
Violent Crime Hotspot Management
The EPS is divided into six divisions. Each of these divisions has identified their top problem communities in an effort to reduce violence in those areas.
The divisions respond to each community based on the violence and disorder that dominates in that area, such as prostitution or assault. They make use of resources available to the communities, including Neighbourhood Empowerment Teams, community assets and/or outreach services. The resources available in each area influence the range of tactical and strategic responses that can make the communities safer.
Specialized Traffic Apprehension Teams (STAT)
These teams allow us to identify, detect and disrupt violent criminals. They are intelligence-led units deployed to distressed communities, high-risk corridors and other areas of crime and disorder.
For example, STAT has been deployed twice for our Project OWE campaigns. Project OWE members target individuals with warrants for serious offences including aggravated sexual assaults, manslaughter and robberies. They also track down individuals who carry outstanding warrants for serious driving infractions such as impaired and disqualified driving.
CAT members have identified innovative responses to suppressing violence. One of these responses is known as ‘focused deterrence’, directed at high crime and disorder areas. For short periods of time (less than an hour), EPS members go to a predetermined spot to interact with users of that space.
The aim is to increase the threat of criminal sanctions towards potential offenders. The team communicates that threat in order to maximize its impact on offenders’ behaviour. Both are based on the knowledge that violence and disorder are often concentrated in specific neighbourhoods. Focused deterrence has been used by the EPS since December 2011 in numerous locations.