Edmonton police and health sector must work together, chief says

A stronger link between the health sector and policing is needed to address some key crime concerns in Edmonton, says police Chief Dale McFee.

At a meeting with reporters on Monday, McFee said it’s a partnership he has already started working on since he became chief nine months ago.

McFee said he has already seen progress while working with Royal Alexandra Hospital and thinks if concerns like methamphetamine and mental health can be worked on in a collective approach there is a way to minimize the cycle of crime.

He said he doesn’t think complex problems on the streets can be addressed without everyone at the table working together.

Our success is 100 per cent depending on that partnership.– Dale McFee, Edmonton Police Chief

“I think we’re like the electrician,” he said. “We need to potentially be the ones that lead those partnerships, and I would say we probably haven’t been that way in the past. But we need to take it upon ourselves to do that, because our success is 100 per cent depending on that partnership.”

If police and the health care system work together, they may be able to address underlying problems, instead of throwing people behind bars and repeating the cycle a few months later.

Mental Health

Last month, the Edmonton Police Service said it planned to enhance training for officers responding to mental health complaints.

“They just keep getting out and they just keep going back, and it’s the same thing,” McFee said of people arrested numerous times. “But we’re not addressing the impact of why individuals are there.”

The chief said the justice system is not always the answer for every criminal act that happens. Which is where he thinks an alignment with the health sector will help.

“We’re treating people with the justice system,” he said.

It will take time to create new committees and teams to align the two sectors, McFee said, but it’s something he thinks is the key to addressing much of the crime on the streets of Edmonton.

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