Edmonton, June 18, 2011 – In an effort to address the city's unusually
high number of killings in 2011, Edmonton's police department has
reassigned more than a dozen officers from across the organization into
the overburdened homicide section.
In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday, Rod Knecht, Edmonton's new chief of
police, said 16 officers have been seconded to help solve this year's
"That's quite significant, to move 16 people from other duties, focusing
on the outstanding unsolved homicides," he said.
Knecht said he was briefed this week on each of the 25 homicides "in
"I have a pretty good understanding of where we are now. Clearly, the
rate is high on a comparative basis. And the best way to address it is
The homicide section has solved about half of this year's homicides, he
He anticipates that figure will rise with the additional personnel that
have been brought in.
Knecht said communication is paramount to both solving and preventing
crimes, something that can only be done by engaging Edmonton's diverse
"Without it, we're really on our own and we're going to be extremely
ineffective," he said.
One of those groups is the Somali community, which has been
disproportionately affected by murders in the past four years.
Somali-Canadian organization leaders have long called for the police
department to actively recruit officers who are from the community, can
speak the language and will help build trust.
Knecht said the department is on its way to making that a reality.
"I was informed just today that we are looking at a specific individual
who could be joining the Edmonton Police Service from the Somali
community," he said, but stopped short of giving a more definitive
timeline, saying it depends on many factors.
"But it's something we obviously want to do, I think it's important to
Overall, he said, crime in the city has seen a decrease in recent years
and the challenge will be maintaining that trend while officers are
reassigned to help with homicide cases.
"Of course one of my concerns ... is that we don't water down the good
work we're doing in other areas," he said.
"Edmonton is a safe community -people don't have to worry. But the
numbers are somewhat intimidating when people start saying 25 homicides.
"It's a high number." But with just one week as chief under his belt, he
said it's still too early to tell whether the department, which spends
slightly more than $300 million a year, needs a budget increase.
"What I'm trying to do right now is find out what the issues are, what
the resourcing issues are.
"If we need more resources, obviously, I'm going to be a proponent for
getting more resources for the police service," Knecht said, adding his
first priority is to ensure the department operates effectively and
Ultimately, he said, it's important for police to be as transparent with
the public as possible, even in situations where they've erred.
"I think the public is very forgiving of the police when we make an
honest mistake and are open and transparent about it," he said.
"We only function if we're credible and the public trusts us. Our
credibility is everything."
Source: Calgary Herald