Updated: Aug 20
A variety of topics have come up in my conversations with Edmontonians in recent months. One topic in particular has stood out above the rest, Police funding. With global events surrounding police brutality taking center stage on all media platforms as of late, there has been a huge push to "de-fund the police". As someone of Métis descent, I know first hand that racism is alive and thriving in Canada, as well as in our own city. I absolutely understand the logic behind this movement. However, I am weary about supporting such measures. The repercussions of de-funding the police have the potential to create astronomical hardships for Edmontonians down the road. Please understand that this is strictly my opinion and that my stance on this matter does not come from a place of racism, anti-racism or racial ideology as a whole.
There is no denying that changes need to be made within the Edmonton Police Service. We are by no means putting enough pressure on eradicating racism and the excessive exertion of force currently present in our city's police force. If elected I would take the opportunity to investigate and experiment with different ways to streamline our emergency dispatch model. I believe that improved efficiency of emergency dispatch would be an excellent starting point in moving towards positive changes within our emergency response teams. As a city we need to hold EPS accountable and at a much higher standard. I would love to see finer tuned methods of recruitment and training protocols with a strong emphasis put on cultural diversity within our police force, alternative and appropriate methods of crisis diffusion as well as strict anti-racism policies being implemented. With the additions of P.A.C.T, (Police and Crisis Team), HUoS (Heavy Users of Service), and H.E.L.P. (Human Centered Liaison Partnership), the Edmonton Police service has taken necessary steps towards restructuring the way our officers conduct themselves regularly, but there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done. I am sure that we can all agree that the job of a police officer is not an easy one. If funding for our police service is drastically cut and essential resources are removed, the detrimental impact on our officers' jobs, security, mental health as well as the safety of our citizens would be insurmountable.
Edmonton consistently ranks as one of the most violent cities in all of Canada. The number of violent crimes committed within our city increases exponentially each year. In fact, Violence Indicators for the month of July 2020 surpassed our three year average between 2017-2019 by 27%. We saw an 88% rise over our municipal average, in weapon related assaults. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an indescribable toll on the people of our city. Prior to this pandemic many of our citizens were already plagued by the all to real mental health crisis. The lock downs, fear and uncertainty did nothing but exacerbate this crisis that has never truly been handled appropriately. The influx of mental health concerns and unshakeable stress, combined with job losses, financial strain, and restrictions placed on activities and social interactions have pushed some Edmontonians to seek out illegal activities to make ends meet or simply to blow off steam. It will take extraordinary measures and a great deal of time to recover from this pandemic. I do not doubt that damage control and restoration will be a large portion of my job over the next four years if I am elected. Our city needs a level headed, unbiased and professional Police Service working alongside us in order to go about this correctly.
The City of Edmonton needs to revamp the ways that their citizens access addiction and mental health programs. Homelessness, drug dependencies, and distress related to mental health should never be labelled as criminal offenses. I vow to work tirelessly in seeking out ways that our city can approve the approach to issues such as these. That being said, we cannot discount the severity of criminal activity and violence that our city sees. Long term, sustainable changes to our police force need to be sought out but minimizing the funding for one of the country's busiest police services is not the way to go about that. The lack of trust towards our police service is justifiable, there is work that needs to be done in order to weed out the volatile and overly aggressive. I do truly believe that the majority of our officers take pride in their careers and are here with the pure intention of helping people in need. Those are the officers that need and deserve our support.