It’s an annual hockey matchup with unlikely players.
The same beat officers who patrol Edmonton’s downtown streets laced up against inner city kids for the tenth year in a row on Friday.
Organizers say the McCauley Cup serves as an important community policing event.
“It gives us an opportunity as a police officer to kind of step back and be seen in a different light,” said Const. Andrew Melney with the Edmonton Police Services.
Officers in uniform can be intimidating to some neighbourhood kids, so kicking back and playing a game of shinny helps break down those barriers.
“From a beat officer perspective, I believe that you’re only really as successful as your relationship is with your community members.”
Edmonton’s incoming police chief participated as well and was pleased with what he saw; meaningful connections between community kids and their neighbourhood’s beat officers.
“When you get to know the people that are willing to help you… and do what they can to help you change your life, those are the things that really last,” said Dale McFee. As McFee prepares to take over the Edmonton Police Service reins in January, he spoke about community policing in Edmonton on Friday.
“I think we’ve got a great foundation, and certainly it’s what I’m all about,” he said. “Do I think we could enhance it? You bet.”
As the game progressed, it was easy to see the sport’s ability to connect police officers with area residents. Even the special guests agreed.
“Hockey has always been a game that brings people together,” said Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, who dropped by to surprise participants. “Whether it’s different countries, different personalities, whatever it is, it’s great to see people coming together.”
McCauley resident Sergei Antonets says his family has noticed the positive effects of community policing in the neighbourhood.