The new strategy acknowledges current community concerns and calls for change, addresses racial injustice, and advocates for the need to work collectively to build, strengthen and repair police-community relationships.
Following worldwide protests calling for social justice and changes to policing, Edmonton City Council held public hearings in June 2020 to better understand how Edmontonians viewed police. The comments at the hearings highlighted the tenuous nature of police relationships with marginalized communities in Edmonton, and that a segment of the population has historically not felt seen, heard or protected by police. Overall, the need for an equitable, restorative and ongoing approach came to the forefront.
In response, EPS is now moving forward with a commitment to action through community engagement, where safe spaces will be created for extensive conversations with communities, then EPS will work with these communities to implement the required changes as soon as possible.
As part of the ongoing engagement, EPS will also be introducing a new community advisory council, which will work directly with various areas of EPS on changes to policy, procedure and operations. The new Chief’s Community Council will be guided by people who experience marginalization, racism and discrimination, as well as community and business partners, and allow for meaningful intercommunity collaboration and problem solving.
EPS recently kicked off the first of its community engagement sessions, and the response from participants was both powerful and promising – not only in helping to build understanding and trust, but in providing new opportunities to discuss concerns and ways to work together.
These engagement sessions will be offered across the city through 2021, and groups also have the option of hosting their own events. Those who do not feel comfortable sharing their stories in an open setting, or are looking for more information on the engagement process, can visit www.epsinput.ca to get involved in the conversations.
As the needs of Edmontonians change and the demands on the police service increase, how EPS operates and conducts business continues to evolve. EPS has already begun making changes to its organization through its forward-thinking Vision 2020 Plan to work smarter, partner with the community, and decrease calls for service by diverting people from the criminal justice cycle into the social supports they require.
Chief Dale McFee's Commitment to Action Statement