The apology, made during a news conference at Police Headquarters, is the beginning of a reconciliation process with members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two-Spirit community.
The apology acknowledged that while police have an obligation to uphold the law and to create safe communities for everyone, the EPS has not always demonstrated behaviors and approaches which embody our core values.
“To the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Two-Spirit community – both across our public and within our service – on behalf of the Edmonton Police Service, I am sorry and we are sorry,” said Chief McFee. “Our actions caused pain. They eroded trust. They created fear. They caused members of the public and our service alike to feel unsafe on their own streets, in their workplaces and even their homes.”
Chief McFee pledged his own personal commitment to stand against homophobia, transphobia and any other kind of marginalization, denigration or disrespect. He invited people to share their stories and to participate in shaping an engagement process aimed at changing the essential nature of the relationship between the EPS and the community. Chief McFee also indicated that part of the reconciliation will include a look inward to understand the impact that the EPS has had historically, on its own members.
“To make sure we get this right it has to be guided and informed by those in our community. By those who have spoken out before, and by those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to share their voices. We are requesting advice, guidance and partnership,” said Chief McFee, adding that the engagement process will allow people to share often difficult experiences.
The EPS is asking members of the LGBTQ2S+ community to share their ideas about the engagement process through a specially established website, www.epsinput.ca .The input shared will shape the design of the engagement process, which will be facilitated by external consultants early in the fall of 2019.
“We all know this is not a simple task. We all know that we may experience challenges, make mistakes and feel uncomfortable and uncertain. But we will keep moving forward. We will build and learn from it all, in service to our commitment to be better than we were before – getting stronger together not just as communities, but as a city,” Chief McFee concluded.
A live stream and recording of the Chief’s speech will be available on the EPS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/edmontonpoliceservice.