The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) has seen the lack of change that our typical arrest, remand, release cycle has had on our vulnerable population. This cycle is also a strain on frontline patrol officers, who do not have the vast skill set or resources to treat each vulnerable person’s specific needs. As EPS began constructing the goals of Vision 2020 in 2019, EPS developed the idea of the Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP) Unit as an option away from this cycle.
The HELP Unit, in partnership with Boyle Street Community Services, The Mustard Seed, Boyle McCauley Heath Centre, Native Counselling Services of Alberta, Bent Arrow, and George Spady Society, works collaboratively with our partners to off-ramp people to independence and sustained positive outcomes. The Unit navigates individuals to the appropriate service providers before the community members get entrenched or caught up in one of our complex judicial systems. HELP focuses on those individuals at greatest risk for victimization and offending, and at greatest risk and harm to themselves, others, and the community as a whole.
HELP officially launched on January 4th, 2021.
How does HELP work?
HELP is a client-centred, multi-disciplinary approach with navigation being the critical aspect of the response to the client, who will be directly involved in their individual case and care plan. The ultimate outcome will be reflected in the improvement achieved in each individual’s live situation.
EPS Constables team up with Navigators who have the knowledge and skillset to support community members to provide referrals, follow-ups, and case management plans. This is typically done by utilizing external community service providers. Essentially, HELP will provide the direct link to external partners, thus providing better outcomes for community members. We expect this will reduce demand on EPS’ frontline officers, thus allowing them to better serve the rest of our city and respond to crimes and promote community safety.
As our employees and partners have joined the team, the Constables and Navigators began their daily proactive measures, which is the most important piece of this unit: building relationships with our vulnerable population. This takes many shapes, like casual conversations or handing out snacks and water. In many cases, HELP teams have built a rapport and discovered people’s direct needs that weren’t being met, or barriers that prevented them from getting support. For example, we have given many community members a bus pass so they could attend appointments because transportation was their major barrier. Other citizens received assistance completing forms to obtain pension, housing, or medical care because they didn’t know who could help them or where to go. We are not only identifying the individual's unmet basic human needs, we are providing them with the means to finally experience and maintain these needs.
Moving forward - Moving in!
Thanks to the partnership with the Katz Group Real Estate, HELP and additional EPS units, as well as some of our external partners with shared clients, goals, and outcomes, moved into an integrated site in the summer of 2021. This co-location allows agencies to be better aligned in the supports provided to the community members, which hasn’t been possible until now. We believe having multiple agencies co-locate allows us to develop better plans for our clients because we are able to collaborate directly with one another to create efficiencies and avoid duplication of supports, fill in gaps, and ultimately change lives for the better while ensuring exemplary services to the vulnerable population within our city.
We are grateful to have built our partnerships, our team, and our relationships in the community since HELP's inception. The hard work that our members and partners have put in allows us to make real changes in our community.