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Edmonton Police Service Online Town Hall - Monday Answers

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  • Edmonton Police Service Online Town Hall - Monday Answers

    EPS Online Town Hall – April 2012 – Monday Questions:

    I sit on the Downtown Edmonton Community League board and in surveying our members it is clear that safety and security are still high on their list of concerns. What is the EPS doing to specifically make their downtown presence more overt/visible and what are, if any, future plans to bring more beat patrol officers to this area.

    Increasing the presence and visibility of police in the downtown area is a priority of the Edmonton Police Service. As such, Downtown Division has several initiatives underway to improve officer visibility, reduce crime and disorder, and thus improving safety in the Downtown core. This list exemplifies some of the projects currently underway or that have received approval to move forward:

    • Downtown Division has benefited from a number of Community Action Team (CAT) events and partnered with local social agencies. The CAT event running this week for example will focus on LRT/Transit terminals including those in the downtown core. These events involve reassigning officers from the other Patrol Divisions and run for four consecutive days. Police officer presence during the specified time frame is increased significantly.
    • Downtown Division has been targeting known problem areas (primarily in the downtown core) with a large number of police officers for short period of time to disrupt crime patterns. This “Crackdown” strategy has proven to be highly successful thus far and more such events are planned throughout the year.
    • We have been trialing flooding problem areas Downtown for several hours with resources reallocated from other areas within the police service, as many as 40-50 police officers participating. This trial with have 5 dates in April. Analysis of the results will guide us through our next steps on this front.
    • Downtown Division was approved for an additional 12 Beat Officers and 2 Supervisors to be assigned to the Entertainment District, which includes the Downtown Community. These new positions will be phased in over the remainder of 2012 and early 2013. Police presence and visibility will get a significant boost via this initiative.
    • We have an ongoing commitment to making Community Liaison Constables and Community Sergeants available to the Community to deal with ongoing issues. The Downtown Community and surrounding district has been provided an extra Constable to tackle the larger volume of work and needs requests.

    Downtown Division as a whole saw Crime drop 15% in 2011 and is down another 6% to date this year. We are confident that initiatives such as those listed above are making a positive impact on the downtown community. Further we remain committed to maintaining the level of innovation and flexibility that this unique environment demands.

    We also have recently received a couple of e-mails from our community league with messages related to issues in our area. The messages are along the lines of "Police warn of...." and "Police request your assistance.....". I am curious as to whether these messages are a result of a new program at the community level.

    Thank you for the positive comments on the divisional e-newsletter.

    The emails from the community league are most likely from the same source as the Divisional Newsletter that you are currently receiving. We employ Community Liaison Officers in each of the 20 geographic policing districts in the city. These teams work with numerous stakeholders including Community Leagues, business owners and local residents to generate proactive activities designed to create and maintain safer communities. Further, Community Liaison Officers strive to incorporate news ways to communicate with the citizens in order keep the community informed.

    Will EPS concentrate on traffic enforcement on 2012? I noticed increased enforcement since distracted driving legislation began and I feel for police presence is a deterrent to dangerous driving habits such as speeding and sudden lane changes. Just having an EPS cruiser around works wonders.

    We assure you that traffic and road safety within Edmonton is and always will be a priority of the Edmonton Police Service. We are fully aware of the sometimes dangerous driving behaviours on city streets and are trying to focus our daily efforts on combating these behaviours through enforcement and education.

    Our enforcement strategies include:
    • Moving-mode radar on major corridors (allowing us to safely intercept vehicles driving at high speeds);
    • Increased police presence at high collision locations throughout the city;
    • Seat belt and child restraint inspections;
    • School zone enforcement;
    • Commercial vehicle inspections; and
    • Impaired driving, motorcycle street racing, and high risk driver enforcement.

    In addition, we use photo radar to monitor speeds in areas and, when manned enforcement has too many safety risks, red light cameras that provide a sustained deterrent to dangerous intersection driving behaviours. All of these efforts are based on sound strategic planning, community and stakeholder consultations, and an evaluation of our past results.

    These strategies are supported by all of the resources within Traffic Section and further supported by our Patrol Officers. We are also involved in traffic education campaigns and ongoing discussions with the Office of Traffic Safety or City of Edmonton road engineers—all designed to improve road safety in Edmonton.

    Last week at Jasper Ave and 101 St around 4:30 PM (I think it was Tuesday, can't remember), I was walking home from work and saw a man being cuffed and loaded into a paddywagon. The gentlemen was not belligerent, but appeared to be quietly conversing with an officer. Didn't see any blood or weapons, nor anyone else who would have been his combatant if there was an altercation. Besides the paddywagon, there were 2 squad cars present. Then 3 more squad cars arrive at the scene with lights flashing.

    So my question is, are EPS personnel really being used efficiently for what we taxpayers are paying for? Why, for example, would it take 5 squad cars of armed officers to arrest one troublemaker?

    Each call is different and carefully evaluated to determine the optimum number of officers required to safely resolve a situation. We seldom dispatch numerous units to calls. That said, understand that the role that police fulfill in society can be a dangerous one. What makes policing somewhat unique is the uncertainty and unpredictability of that danger. Situations that seem routine and commonplace at the outset can change at a moment’s notice. Police have to make evaluations with respect to their safety and the safety of the public on a constant basis to ensure peace and safety for all.

    In this case we know that a citizen was arrested, handcuffed and led away in a wagon. These observations represent a snapshot in time and unfortunately don’t provide us with any context or information regarding what preceded the event. Was this person known/seen to be armed? What information were the officers that responded to the event provided? How reliable was that information held to be? What was the previous history of the citizen they had in handcuffs? You can see that police are often faced with a myriad of “unknowns” when dealing with situations that may appear routine at first glance.

    Foundational training and experience tell us that it is relatively easy to scale an event down should things unfold peacefully and as planned. Having to escalate our response should things quickly go awry is contrary to sound planning. The latter option may well compromise the safety of police, the public and the person police are trying to arrest – an unacceptable position for all involved.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide input to citizen's concerns. Living in Rundle Heights for over 40 years I have 2 traffic issues that should be looked at:

    1. Many drivers ignore the stop signs located on 111 Ave, 113 Ave & 116 Ave all on 34 Street and drive through the intersections and stop only if they see a car approaching. Some stop while others make the cars with the right-of-way take evasive action to prevent an accident.

    2. Drivers using 30th street treat the street like a freeway. I have used a sports type radar gun and observed speeds as high as 78 kph with a high number of drivers traveling over 65 kph. A radar enforcement vehicle on the street a couple of times every 3 months might slow these people down. The time of day when the violations occur are usually people coming home after work and on weekends.

    This information was passed onto the appropriate parties. The Office of Traffic Safety, the EPS Traffic Section, and Northeast Division have been notified and will be looking into this issue further. Thank you for your submission.

    First, I echo what IanO stated, "what are, if any, future plans to bring more beat patrol officers to this area.?"

    Secondly, I would like to see EPS (and EMS) promote/advertise the use of dialing 911 for members in our community who are NFA/ETOH and are in need of respite and safe dwelling at a shelter (provided no legal is involved).

    This former Pilot Project was initiated by Cst. Emerson and is currently in full swing in conjunction with EMS and Hope Mission. I would like to see this vital life saving and cost effective service promoted to assist those who are homeless, intoxicated, under the influence of illicit drugs and who are vulnerable.

    The success of this asset this speaks for itself and to this day retains a greater efficacy and response time than CDRT of past. I utilize this service on behalf of others no less the eight ( times per month in D3 Zone alone.

    Lastly, and anecdotally, I believe there exists a disparity when it comes to EPS addressing mental health/concurrent disorders. I have witness officers who have little empathy, sympathy and the understanding of MH illnesses. On many occasion, I have seen matters and persons minimized in order to promptly remedy an evident MH situation.

    What is EPS' mandate, mission and training in the mental field? Are there any objectives to further increase the services of PACT in the community at large with Addictions and MH via AHS?

    Thank you and I look forward to your favorable responses.

    Cst Ashley Emerson’s initiative regarding the care and transportation of intoxicated and homeless adults that you refer to has proven to be a huge success in the downtown area. Today, the Hope Mission Ministry Van is available 24 hours, 7 days per week. EPS officers have access to this vital resource through our Communications Section, making it easily accessible when required. Unfortunately the EPS and EMS simply cannot promote the dialing of 9-1-1 by those in need of respite and safe dwelling at a shelter. The use and access of the 9-1-1 service is reserved for emergencies only. Expanding its use beyond its intended function would overload this system beyond its capacity, creating potentially dangerous delays for life-threatening situations and/or crimes in progress.

    There are currently six PACT teams in Edmonton with two teams operating in the inner city. The teams are made up of a Mental Health Therapist and an EPS member. In addition to significant experience gained from direct work with mental health clients, the EPS member receives education in dealing with mental health clients. These officers often request to work in this area because of their related educational background or interest.

    Because the mandate of Alberta Health Services and PACT is addiction and mental health, our inner city teams target clients struggling with these issues. They complete assessments through community policing stations and in client’s homes.

    In addition to working with clients, the teams also provide mental health training for other officers through various EPS training opportunities and are available for consult on cases that require a mental health intervention. The hours of operation are seven days a week from 7:00 am until 1:00 a.m.

    Downtown Division implemented a Vulnerable Persons Team some 18 months ago to address many of the issues regarding mental health and addictions that you recognize as being prevalent in the downtown area. The Vulnerable Persons Team partners a police officer with a psychiatric nurse. These teams work closely with AHS on harm reduction strategies and directing clients to the appropriate referral services to ensure they receive the care and support that they require

    Two comments + one question
    The more foot -community and enforcement presence downtown that the EPS may be able to provide may also provide more of a feeling of pedestrian safety and walkability to the downtown core and surrounding area.

    More basic traffic + driver skill and observance of safe driving practices needs to be made. How to park, signal stopping points etc.

    When will a conscious effort be made to clean out the City Centre and Library area loiterers?

    Downtown Division places a high priority on the largely populated parts of downtown, including the areas around Churchill Square. While the mall and the Library have their own security teams, the EPS also provide Beat Officers that patrol the areas on foot and on bikes on a regular basis. Community Peace Officers are an additional resource that we regularly utilize in this area as well.
    The resources listed above are supplemented by other initiatives throughout the year. For example we employ analysts on an ongoing basis in order to track crime and disorder in this area and react to it as quickly as possible. Community Action Team (CAT) deployments like many other initiatives are good examples of our focused and strategic approach in this area. Ultimately this particular are of the downtown core possesses a number of features that make dealing with crime and disorder issues a challenge. We remain committed to working with those that use and frequent this vibrant area to implement viable long-term solutions.

    Thank you for offering your time to answer questions.

    With distracted driving legislation in place, what course of action should the public take if they find police officers using handheld devices what are clearly distracting them from proper operation of their vehicle? What course of action should the public take if they witness an officer simply driving poorly, in a "do what we say, not what we do" sort of manner? Shouldn't police be leading by example when it comes to traffic violations?

    The Edmonton Police Service places the same expectations regarding driver attention on its officers that it does on the public. All drivers are expected to maintain their focus on the road. By no means are EPS officers exempt from this expectation.

    Situations can and do arise in policing that require officers to access vital information from various sources while responding to priority events where public safety is compromised. These sources include the computer terminals present in all police vehicles, police radios and cell phones as well.

    The Distracted Driver legislation recently introduced in Alberta recognizes this reality and provides certain exemptions to the regulations for drivers operating emergency vehicles. The spirit of this legislation speaks to the degree of necessity of the distraction perpetrated by the drive. In no way does it represent an absolute exemption from the rules.

    The Edmonton Police Service welcomes citizen feedback regarding the driving habits of its officers. Marked police vehicles all have individual markings that make identification an easy process. A phone call to the divisional police station in question will get you in touch with the driver’s supervisor. The supervisor will attempt to resolve the issue to your satisfaction. If a resolution cannot be reached in this manner, the matter will then be referred to our Professional Standards Branch for conclusion.

    Hello and thanks for the opportunity to ask questions.

    I live in Inglewood, near 127 St and 118 Ave. Since last year the NET was working in this area. I understand that there is new personnel for the NET team here. Are they fully operational yet?

    Also, we heard from NET that a major area of focus was the apartment / condo units on 117 ave and 127 street, with the majority of service calls to the Inglewood area coming from there. I just wondered if we could get an update on how they are progressing, towards working with the owners/managers there to deal with the drug sales problems, domestic violence, and other safety issues that may originate from there? Have they been able to get any ByLaw people, or fire violations people or any other agencies that might help in cleaning up this area?

    Has the general crime / disturbance rate for that specific area decreased since last year?

    Thanks for your information.

    There are two new NET members within the Inglewood neighbourhood –
    • Constable John Sorensen
    • Social Worker Jena Bober

    They fully operational in the neighbourhood and continue to work on the long-term program goals.

    As suggested, a major area of focus was the apartment / condo units on 117 Avenue and 127 Street due to the high-volume of calls for service.

    With respect to results, one apartment block that NET directed its activities towards experienced a 31 percent decrease in calls for service from police. This decrease was achieved by;

    • Connecting with on-site management and facilitated a positive working relationship.
    • Working alongside management and area Edmonton Police Service Beats to identify trouble tenants.
    • Providing management with crime prevention information including the Crime Free Multi-housing program and other prevention options.
    • Inglewood Apartment/Condo Coalition: NET has been facilitating bi-monthly meetings with Apartment owners and managers from the Inglewood neighborhood to discuss way in which best to address issues such as drug trafficking, problem tenants and general disorder.

    Other Crime reduction strategies currently in place are:

    • Our Eyes Our Community campaign: Decals placed in bus shelters, apartments, local businesses and on alley dumpsters encouraging residents to take ownership of their community and report suspicious activity to police.
    • NET follow-up to chronic calls for service addresses including calls regarding family violence to provide support and services.
    • Working closely with local agencies to provide service connections and linkages between service providers and residents

  • #2
    Given operational issues this morning, I was asked to post these on behalf of the username edmontonpolice. All answers are from the EPS and were sent via e-mail this morning. Please, no comments on this thread, as I will leave it open for a few hours so it remains on our headline page.