Edmonton unveils 90-day action plan to improve community safety in response to task force recommendations

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Edmonton is advancing 70 quick actions to be taken over the next 90 days in an effort to improve community safety for all residents and address racism in the city.

A work plan between the city, the Edmonton Police Service and the Edmonton Police Commission was released Thursday in response to 14 recommendations brought forward by a council-directed task force earlier this year. City manager Andre Corbould said the actions now being advanced respond directly to the recommendations and allow for quick improvements.

One of the actions being implemented right away is the creation of a public community safety and well-being dashboard to better track safety concerns and racist activity in the city. This data will be used as a metric to help track the success of the work plan, Corbould said.

“Ultimately, Edmontonians are going to be the judge of this plan moving forward and so that’s why we’re going to have this public facing perspective showing everything that’s been done and what the results are for progress going forward. Edmontonians will judge this and we’ll listen to them,” he told reporters.

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Other immediate actions include the installation of in-car video cameras on police vehicles, increased training for police officers and city employees on bias, anti-racism and trauma as well as building more diverse workforces through paid internships, new recruitment practices and targeted outreach activities.

The Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force was an independent committee of 16 members tasked with bringing forward ideas to address racism and discrimination and ensure all residents feel safe when interacting with police.

According to 2020 data from the city, about 63 per cent of Edmontonians said they feel safe and 50 per cent said they have experienced discrimination or racism. The police service’s online dashboard reports that more than 80 per cent of Edmontonians said they have confidence in the service.

With 13 recommendations immediately supported by city council — the final recommendation about the future of police funding is still being reviewed — the city developed the action plan in support of the proposed changes, which include a joint dispatch model, enhanced training and broadening the scope of the police commission.

The joint dispatch model is an integral part of the plan, Corbould said, as it will ensure the best resource is dispatched to calls for service, be that the police or a community support agency. The project is underway and could take up to three years to complete.

This wide-scale effort to improve community safety began last summer after more than 140 people shared their stories and fears during a lengthy city council public hearing in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The plan also follows a series of hate-motivated attacks in the city dating back to December, which Corbould said reinforces the urgent need for the work.

“Recent events have in fact proven once again that we have to do this work and we have to keep on moving forward and we have significant challenges and problems out there and they have certainly reinforced the need,” he said.

Council’s community and public services committee will discuss the actions June 30.

duscook@postmedia.com

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