Booming city, busting cops
City police are stretched so thin that the force has closed several ongoing intelligence units, a veteran police officer told Metro yesterday.
“We’ve never been this resource poor, ever, in the history of the EPS,” he said. “We are just barely keeping our head above water.”
The longtime city police officer said Edmonton’s booming population, coupled with a surge in retirements, has put incredible stress on the force. The number of officers on the streets hasn’t increased much since the 1980s, he said, while recruitment efforts are practically a bust.
“We have become simply a reactive force,” he said. “We have lost a lot of our project teams because they need to go on the street to handle the volume of calls. A lot of officers have time off for vacation too so that depletes things even more.”
The city’s drug unit has also been temporarily reduced to one officer while others have been transferred to a homicide investigation.
Critics complain that a reduced size in a city’s police force is an invitation for criminal activity. Some question the city’s homicide rate and problems with drug and gang activity.
Last year, there were 36 homicide cases while police have laid charges in at least seven of the 16 homicides recorded so far this year.
“We’ve witnessed a chronic under-funding of the police service in Alberta,” Liberal MLA Mo Elsalhy said. “We have not seen any increases in police funding in Alberta for at least the past decade.”
The Liberals are now calling for more police funding, citing statistics that claim the province has the third-lowest ratio of officers to citizens in the country.
“The function of a police force shouldn’t only be reactionary, where they look for the crook and they try to catch the criminal,” he added.
“When you don’t have these people in the streets, first you lost the ability to prevent crime before it happens, and then you lose the visual deterrent.”