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Edmonton police chief concerned about ‘upswing’ of crime involving meth

March 23: Edmonton's police chief says meth addiction is a growing concern in the city but police alone can't solve the problem. Kendra Slugoski reports.

Edmonton’s police chief is planning a new offensive against a drug he says is taking up more and more of his officers’ time.

Chief Dale McPhee wants to bring in public health agencies to coordinate efforts for a growing drug problem that’s landed right in the middle of the spectrum, between the deadly opioid fentanyl at one end, and marijuana at the other.

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“In the middle, there’s this drug called meth which you take, you stay up sometimes for days,” McPhee told reporters during a break in Thursday’s police commission meeting.

“You go out, you’re seeing high numbers of car chases, you’re seeing property crime.

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“This is a phenomenon that is in certainly a whole lot of jurisdictions,” McPhee said.

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“We’ve seen a serious upswing,” he said. “I can tell you in the morning briefings now it’s six, it’s eight, it’s nine, 10 cases of meth being involved, whether it’s seizing meth, whether somebody’s under the influence of meth, whether it’s erratic behavior, whether it’s significant violence. I mean, it’s a stimulant.”

McPhee has already reached out to Alberta Health Services to map out a game plan, as well as Statistics Canada to find out if there is a better way of tracking crime statistics and other information.

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“It’s a different treatment because of the different type of drug. We need a similar public health and law enforcement response to this.

“We also need a community response in how we’re going to deal with this and how we’re going to get informed that it’s happening in the community.

“It’s a priority because it’s disproportionately showing up in our calls for service as one of the main contributors,” the police chief said.

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“If we don’t have the public health piece to ensure that we’re getting treatment, we’re obviously (going to have to be) looking after the people that are addicted and caught up in this situation,” he said.

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He said a priority that EPS is working on is putting the right people at the table to start a meaningful conversation.

“This isn’t something that we should take six months to do,” McPhee said.

“Let’s get on it because people are hurting people and ultimately, people die as a result of this, so it’s something that we want to make a priority.”