A leaked memo from Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht to members of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) explains why the EPS has so far not joined four other police forces in Canada in offering a formal apology to the LGBTQ citizens for past treatment of that community.
Edmonton Police Association president Mike Elliott confirmed the memo was received by officers earlier this week.
In part, the leaked memo that was viewed by Global News said there is “no clear agreement or resolution” on whether an apology should be offered. Knecht appeared worried that the apology would follow others, including one from Calgary police two weeks ago.
“One of the concerns was that we did not want our apology to be viewed as insincere or trite in following in other’s footsteps, but rather genuine and specific to the historical EPS interactions with the community,” it read.
Late last month, Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin issued a formal apology to that city’s LGBTQ community for how police spoke out against the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969 and struggled to embrace the new law when it passed. He also apologized for police denying permits to Pride parades in the 1980s and failing to consider the impacts of a 2002 bathhouse raid.
Watch below: On July 27, 2018, Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin issued a formal apology to the LGBTQ2+ community for “things we did in the past.”
The special adviser to the prime minister on LGBTQ issues, Randy Boissonnault, said Friday that an apology would go a long way in connecting with the community.
“It’s not only important symbolically, it’s important substantively when organizations that have wronged the community in the past are able to make those kinds of apologies,” he said.
“What’s important is that all citizens know that they belong, they’re included and that they feel safe but also that they know the institutions that represent them — that protect them — also have their backs.”
Boissonnault is the Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Centre. He confirmed what was written in the memo and that Supt. Brad Doucette has been discussing outreach with the LGBTQ community for a couple of years.
“It’s happening actively now,” Boissonnault said. “When you have leaders like Murray Billett weighing in, and Michael Phair and others, and it’s important for this conversation to continue and as a Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Centre, my views on this are clear: apologies, when delivered sincerely in connection with community, do make a difference.”
He said it’s especially important after he saw last week how the Pride event in Fredericton, N.B. was the largest in that city’s history. The even took place after a shooting that took the lives of two officers and two civilians.
“It was an opportunity for the community to celebrate Pride, and also honour what the police force and two citizens had gone through.”
The leaked memo was posted to Billett’s Facebook page. Billett is a former member of the Edmonton Police Commission.
You can view the memo below.