In a move to bolster frontline policing, the Edmonton Police Service is redeploying 62 officers from various units.
The 62 officers will join existing patrols and also create a new 10-squad patrol model, EPS said in a news release Thursday.
It will mean more patrol officers at every district — in all six zones — Chief Dale McFee explained.
“In the 10-squad model, everybody has the same number of shift deployments (but) it adds another shift deployment — it’s got a static day shift in it to actually take calls for service off the board,” McFee said.
“It should increase visibility. It’s based on a geographic reallocation of resources and then we work towards being more visible.
“It’s going to be consistent with shifts, with patterns to actually take out some of the calls for service that maybe don’t need a controlled response, maybe can be done online. But it’s also factoring in getting more patrol cars as visible as possible in the areas.”
The new patrol model will be deployed on Nov. 13.
“There is no question that the community wants to see frontline policing be a bigger priority, even within a tough resource environment,” said Deputy Chief Darren Derko, who’s in charge of the community policing bureau.
“With growing needs and a front-line service that is still recovering from more than two years of COVID impacts, we know we have to make some tough changes to get the right people in the right places at the right times.
“This model will help us achieve this, while also allowing us to look after the wellness of our members,” Derko said.
There will be service implications because of the changes, EPS said, “some of which will be noticeable to the general public.”
Two new collision reporting centres recently opened on Sept. 29 for motorists involved in minor vehicle collisions. McFee previously said that would immediately free up about three officers, with another 10-12 officers potentially being freed up in the near future.
Other changes include the closure of the front counter at the Northwest Police Station — which McFee explained doesn’t see a lot of traffic — and a reduction in some front counter hours. These changes will free up additional constables to support the patrol shift, EPS said.
Other service impacts will be outlined in the coming weeks, the police service said.
During his Coffee With the Chief event Thursday morning, McFee said EPS has been working on this patrol model for some time. He said the feedback from communities is they want to see police more.
“That 10-squad model is basically looking at how we’re going to change shifting patterns in all locations of the city, how we’re going to reallocate resources to get more visibility,” he said.
“What we needed to do in relation to that is increase our numbers on patrol. But, with no budget increase, what we had to do was basically figure out what can we move out, stop doing or actually get to looking at differently.”
Wen Wong, executive director of the Chinatown and Area Business Association, believes the reallocation of police will help.
“We realize in the nighttime especially we need more EPS and security help,” he said.
“After the two murders, we also have very serious vandalism.
“We will tell the difference if we have more EPS presence,” he said. “It’s a deterrent.”
Wong said Nov. 13 can’t come soon enough.
“More than 70 members are leaving or are planning to leave Chinatown if the situation, security doesn’t improve immediately,” he said.
“City and EPS come to Chinatown to clean up weekly but we realize after cleanup, those same tents pop up again in the next one or two hours.
“We hope we can see results in the near future.”
McFee said police also reviewed their division boundaries.
“If you look at southwest, we had to adjust our boundaries because the time to get to a call (there) were also more significant than others.”
The 10-squad patrol model was developed “with input from frontline members who understand the needs to address growing front-line workload demands, but to also balance deployment more effectively to address officer wellness,” the EPS news release said.
“The new squad model will ensure service levels that improve members’ ability to respond to calls for service and better serve the citizens of Edmonton.”
However, the new patrol model required moving some police resources around, which meant looking at other police functions and deciding from where staff could be moved, EPS explained.
“All considerations are being made to mitigate the impacts of the needed changes both to EPS and to the community while ensuring the new patrol model is equipped and ready for this change,” Derko said.
“There will obviously, like anything else, be people who say we shouldn’t shut this down or we shouldn’t shut that down,” McFee added. “But at some point, part of this exercise to get what you actually need to have that impact is you have to move things around.
“We are getting asked more frequently by communities for more presence.”