It was not your typical retirement announcement, especially when you have policing in your blood, and it can be hard to say goodbye to the many friends and colleagues you leave behind.
But there it was, a cake in the staff lunchroom with a cryptic message: “1233 is RETIRING MAY 31st, 2023.”
Stunned, one new staff member asked, “What’s a 1233?” But this was Constable Arlene Omilian’s fun way of announcing her retirement and hanging up her badge Reg. #1233.
Arlene’s enthusiasm was evident from her earliest days in policing.
Arlene joined Edmonton Police Department Class 57 on November 26, 1979. Women were only hired in Patrol a few years earlier, so it was not easy challenging sexist stereotypes at the time.
“My goal was not to prove that a woman could do this job, but to prove that Arlene could do this job,” recalls Arlene. “One thing that comes to mind is a Sergeant in Training Section who told me to go home and have babies because I would never make it as a police officer.”
“It made me angry and determined to prove him wrong – so I proved him wrong. Today, nobody can even imagine policing without women being part of it.”
Arlene loved interacting with community members in Patrol.
Despite these initial challenges, Arlene had a passion for working in Patrol, and spent 38 years on the frontlines of policing making a difference in people’s lives. For her efforts, she was named the first-ever Edmonton Police Association Patrol Officer of the Year, and also received the Edmonton Police Service Dempsey Award.
Keeping a sense of humor and a balanced life has helped Arlene enjoy a 43-year career with EPS filled with friends and fond memories. These include volunteering in the community, working special duty at many major Edmonton events, and building lifelong friendships with members of the London Metropolitan Police that have continued to this day.
Arlene had the honour of being presented with her 30-Year Long Service Medal by Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police.
After the London bombings on July 7, 2005, some EPS members raised money to buy Tim Horton’s coffee for the many investigators working overtime to solve the crimes, and Arlene and a fellow officer flew over with 160 pounds of coffee to show them our support. It was a gift that was very well-received and appreciated.
“It does not matter where in the world you go, London or other parts of the world, you meet another police officer and you share a bond that goes beyond borders. I have gone back to London many times, and they have always given me the ‘royal treatment’ so to speak.”
Where is Arlene? There she is with the Canadian umbrella at the Royal Coronation Procession.
At the International Women’s Day celebrations at EPS Headquarters on March 6, 2020, Arlene was recognized for being the longest serving female officer in EPS history. EPS celebrated Arlene as well as several other female employees at the signature Women in Policing event.
EPS celebrated Arlene as well as several other female employees at the signature Women in Policing event.
“That was one of the greatest highlights of my life, there was nothing before or anything since that equaled how I felt that day,” says Arlene. “When I looked out into the audience and saw so many police officers, and my family and friends, it was overwhelming and emotional how special I was treated that day.”
Holding back some tears and squeezing in hugs from coworkers as she works her last shift in Emergency Communications Branch South, she reflects on her retirement. She is planning to tackle some home renovations, travel to London a few more times, and continue volunteering her time to help Ukrainian war refugees settle in Edmonton.
Arlene has been sponsoring Ukrainian war refugees, helping them settle, and fundraising for their daily needs.
“I was passionate about my calling and have no regrets about choosing policing as a career. It was the best possible career choice I could have made, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Serving and protecting this community has been an honour, and as I retire, I do so with great pride, knowing that the spirit of EPS will always be a part of me. I am so grateful for the many memories, lessons, and friendships forged along the way.”
Thank you Constable Arlene Omilian for your 43 years of service, we wish you all the best in your retirement!