Edmonton police rezoning downtown beat boundaries

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Edmonton police rezoning downtown beat boundaries
The Edmonton Police Service is changing up some tactics, redeploying some beat officers to parts of the the core to help deal with crime and social disorder. As Sarah Komadina report, some officers who used to patrol Boyle Street, downtown and McCauley are moving to cover parts of Cromdale, Oliver and the west leg of Jasper Avenue – Feb 16, 2023

The Edmonton Police Commission heard Thursday that the city’s police service is going to rezone the downtown division beat boundaries “to better serve all of downtown.”

The change is being made after the Healthy Streets Operation Centre was launched in late 2022 in the downtown core.

The HSOC was approved as a “result of dramatic crime and disorder in the area, compounded by violent offences and the overwhelming number of community members experiencing houselessness and vulnerability within these boundaries.”

The HSOC encompasses three existing geographical downtown police beats: Boyle, McCauley and City Centre. Downtown beats currently staff two members per beat team.

The HSOC currently has two sergeants, 16 constables, with anticipated staffing of four sergeants and 32 constables in early 2024. But it also partners with Alberta Health Services paramedics, community peace officers and firefighters and community safety liaisons are expected to join the teams in the coming weeks.

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When the HSOC came in, there were more officers in that area and some confusion over who was responsible for what and where, the EPC heard Thursday.

So, a report suggests rezoning the division to create three new beats based on data analysis and crime trends: Cromdale/Boyle Street (Stadium Road to Jasper Avenue, 95 Street to 82 Street), Oliver (121 Street to 116 Street, 100 Avenue to 105 Avenue) and Jasper West (105 Street to 112 Street, 100 Avenue to 102 Avenue).

“Based on the statistical data, the proposed new beat geographies within downtown will benefit from having a dedicated beat which is expected to have a dramatic impact on further gaining public support and reducing crime and disorder,” the report said.

The new beat zones will be implemented Feb. 19.

There will be a two-week transition period to the rezoned beats.

No additional police staffing would be required. The 12 existing members would pivot from their current geographies into the three new geographies.

Click to play video: 'Suspicious deaths, violence over 24 hours has Edmonton police redirecting more officers downtown'
Suspicious deaths, violence over 24 hours has Edmonton police redirecting more officers downtown

The report to the police commission said there were 5,525 occurrences of violence crime, social disorder and property crime in a one-year period (Oct. 1, 2021 to Oct. 31, 2022) for Cromdale, Jasper West and Oliver.

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“Another advantage of pivoting the current noted beat geographies is HSOC and downtown beats will have; a clear delineation of assignments and work areas of responsibilities creating better accountability for both sections, avoid duplication of work, provide clear lines of contact and communication between members and stakeholders, increase job satisfaction for members, and substantially decreasing the need for deconfliction of targets/projects which is often cumbersome,” the report added.

The EPS’ current 10-squad model is currently seeing solid success, the commission heard. Members report there is also more proactive time in this 10-squad model to engage in the neighbourhoods and communities, one member told the commission.

“Our daily goals are high visibility, increased community engagement and proactively addressing some of the issues facing central Edmonton,” said Insp. Angela Kemp of the EPS Crime Suppression Branch. “Our officers are combining crime suppression and beat work, focusing on the crime aspect, while our partners are working on the other factors impacting the community.”

The effectiveness of the rezoned beats would be determined every six months by looking at the increase or decrease in calls for service. The EPS is also being asked to monitor if crime is decreasing or if it’s just being moved to another area of the city.

Click to play video: 'City hopes centre in downtown Edmonton improves safety'
City hopes centre in downtown Edmonton improves safety

“We’re always looking for ways to better serve the communities we police,” said Downtown Branch Insp. Brent Dahlseide. “Rather than duplicating efforts, we have an opportunity to take resources and place them in another areas of need.”

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“We hear from the community on a regular basis that police visibility is important to them – this move doesn’t just help us address crime and disorder, it also helps us form new relationships as our beat teams get to know other neighbourhoods.”

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