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Edmonton police commission, city council need to 'get back together': chair

Edmonton City Hall
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The chair of the Edmonton Police Commission said it’s “critical” the commission repairs its relationship with city council.

John McDougall told CTV News Edmonton “there’s no one side to blame" but says there’s been a “communication breakdown” between the two groups.

“I don’t know what the catalyst was for this breakdown," McDougall said.

"It's not really important. What is important is that we get back together. We work together.”

Although McDougall didn’t want to discuss the details of the fraught relationship, it’s clear a request by one city councillor is making matters worse.

In December, Keren Tang put forward a motion to see the commission’s audit plan.

In April, the commission responded with a letter saying it “respectfully declines” since it’s traditionally an “inward-facing document” and releasing it would “diminish overall effectiveness”.

The issue was discussed by councillors at city hall earlier this week, and commission representatives chose not to attend.

“I think it would be difficult to have a meaningful meeting right now without a mediator to help us ensure that we know each other's roles and responsibilities,” McDougall explained to CTV News Edmonton.

“This acrimonious relationship serves absolutely nobody.”

McDougall said the commission recently sent city hall a request for a mediator to attend future meetings.

In a statement sent to CTV News Edmonton, the mayor’s office said it is working with the commission to schedule a “facilitated discussion”.

‘Disappointing, but that’s their decision’: Mayor

During Tuesday’s council meeting, the mayor and councillors expressed frustration that police commission members did not attend it.

Councillor Keren Tang clarified her motion was not ordering an audit, she said it was to gain greater insight into the commission’s audit process.

“This is related to the biggest line item we have in the budget and I think digging a little bit deeper into where the commission’s heads at in terms of what area do we need to look into — not a specific audit — I think is a reasonable request," she said.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi acknowledged the commission is made up of volunteers and thanked them for their work but said someone should have attended the meeting.

“The commission also has a professional staff and that professional staff could have been here today to answer questions from council, so that is disappointing," Sohi said. 

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