Though rare, extreme weather events, like the 1987 Edmonton tornado, demonstrate the critical need for emergency operations planning.
The Disaster Emergency Operations and Planning Section (DEOPS) was established in 1998 to ensure the continued safety and security of Edmontonians in the event of a natural disaster, man-made disaster, civil disturbance, large public event, or unusual occurrence, requiring a concentration of police resources. DEOPS is the logistical support mechanism for the EPS, and provides assistance to all critical incidents.
DEOPS is comprised of several specialized units which provide ongoing support for the day-to-day operations of EPS and are key components of EPS’ emergency response. These include:
The Marine Unit uses a jet boat and Sea-doos to patrol over 70 km of the North Saskatchewan River within the jurisdiction of the City of Edmonton. The unit provides emergency assistance, supports search and rescue operations and education activities, and enforces regulations related to public use of the river, including liquor use, licensing and noise.
Members of this unit manage the deployment of local ground Search and Rescue personnel and volunteers as well as other police resources assigned to the search. Search Managers are trained and certified in Search and Rescue Management and can be directly assigned to assist in the search for lost, missing or despondent persons. With additional specialized training, Search managers also support EPS investigative units in searching for evidence.
Public Safety Unit
The Public Safety Unit is comprised of personnel with specialized training in crowd management and are deployed to protests, rallies or demonstrations to ensure the safety and rights of all citizens are protected. The Public Safety Unit also manages requests for assistance from other jurisdictions to support disaster response or major events.
Logistical Support Unit
The Logistical Support Unit manages the deployment of specialized equipment, such as the Mobil Command Post, and personnel to support EPS response to disasters, critical incidents and/or other major events as well as day-to-day operational requirements.
Extra Duty Detail
Formerly known as the Special Events Policing Detail, the Extra Duty Detail manages requests by the public for special event policing and crafting Standard Operational Plans for major events.
The Operations Centre is the base for the Incident Command Team, comprised of representatives of first response and community services agencies during emergency or other major events. EPS works with partners across jurisdictions to support public safety and well-being.
DEOPS works closely with municipal, provincial and federal government and other partners to ensure the EPS’ Emergency Response Plan (ERP) aligns with the emergency management planning of partners, providing for an effective, coordinated response. An example is the 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire which saw hundreds of evacuees finding refuge in Edmonton and surrounding communities. Supporting the City of Edmonton and provincial government agencies, EPS provided policing services to ensure the safety and well-being of evacuees housed in the city’s Expo Centre.
The Section participates in annual tabletop simulations and mock disasters with partner agencies to test the effectiveness of planning and operational response. Outcomes of simulations are carefully reviewed to identify areas of improvement or modification.
EPS also supports other jurisdiction in responding to disaster or other major events requiring additional or specialized personnel or equipment. An example is the 2013 Calgary Flood when EPS dispatched Public Safety Unit members to assist in providing security for the businesses, homes and property of evacuated owners and residents.