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Edmonton Police Service celebrates 125 years as city’s police force

The Edmonton Police Service held a ceremony at City Hall to mark 125 years in Edmonton Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
The Edmonton Police Service held a ceremony at City Hall to mark 125 years in Edmonton Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

On June 20, 1892, town council met on the top floor of a butcher shop and decided to hire Edmonton’s first police constable, forming the Edmonton Police Department.

It was then-mayor Matthew McCauley who issued the bylaw, allowing the town to appoint constables to keep the peace. Within a decade, the police force had doubled its efforts.

“Two constables, a bicycle and two whistles,” Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said Tuesday.

“And actually, those two members had to pay for those whistles out of their own pockets.”

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From 1902 to 1912, the EPD expanded further to include a chief constable, inspector, two captains, five detectives, six sergeants and 52 constables.

In 1911, Alex Decoteau was hired by the EPD, becoming the first aboriginal person to be hired by a police department in Canada.

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READ MORE: Remembering Alex Decoteau: Olympian, soldier, Canada’s first aboriginal police officer

Fast forward 125 years and the Edmonton Police Service is now proudly represented by 2,600 employees, including 1,800 sworn members and 800 civilian members.

While the uniform, vehicle and role of a police officer has evolved over the years, the mission has remained the same: to serve and protect the city of Edmonton.

“It takes a tremendous amount of effort by an extremely diverse and dedicate staff to keep an organization like the Edmonton Police Service running smoothly,” Knecht said.

READ MORE: ‘They have nostalgic value’: Edmonton police collect artifacts for 125th anniversary

Members of the EPS, city council and the public gathered to mark the 125th anniversary of the police service at city hall on Tuesday. On behalf of Mayor Don Iveson, Coun. Scott McKeen declared June 20, 2017 Edmonton Police Service day.

Watch below: Coun. Scott McKeen declares June 20, 2017 Edmonton Police Service day in the city

Edmonton Police Service marks 125 years in the city
Edmonton Police Service marks 125 years in the city

Several events are planned throughout the summer to mark the 125th year of the EPS, including a celebration at Borden Park on Aug. 20. The public is invited to attend the family friendly event with members of the Edmonton police.

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Edmonton police officers will also serve as parade marshal for the annual K-Days Parade in July.

On Tuesday night, the High Level Bridge will be lit up in red and blue to honour the anniversary.

Below: Photo gallery of Edmonton police vehicles, badges and uniforms through the years

An Edmonton police cruiser takes part in the K-Days Parade.
An Edmonton police cruiser takes part in the K-Days Parade. Courtesy, EPS
An Edmonton Police Service cruiser.
An Edmonton Police Service cruiser. Courtesy, EPS
An Edmonton Police Service cruiser, from 1976.
An Edmonton Police Service cruiser, from 1976. Courtesy, EPS
Old Edmonton police badges.
Old Edmonton police badges. Courtesy, EPS
Edmonton Police Service pictured in 1972.
Edmonton Police Service pictured in 1972. Courtesy, EPS
Edmonton Police Service members pictured in 1972.
Edmonton Police Service members pictured in 1972. Courtesy, EPS
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Edmonton Police Service, circa 1971.
Edmonton Police Service, circa 1971. Courtesy, EPS
Members of the Edmonton Police Service, circa 1908.
Members of the Edmonton Police Service, circa 1908. Courtesy, EPS
Members of the Edmonton Police Service.
Members of the Edmonton Police Service. Courtesy, EPS
Edmonton police Cst. Harry Surcon in a buffalo jacket, which was worn by officers between 1892 and 1978.
Edmonton police Cst. Harry Surcon in a buffalo jacket, which was worn by officers between 1892 and 1978. Courtesy, EPS