If EPS, sheriffs try a hard crackdown on inner-city Edmonton it could make things worse: criminologist
A former Edmonton Police Service officer believes bringing Alberta Sheriffs into downtown Edmonton is a risky plan that has the potential to backfire if not done properly.
Dan Jones wore an EPS badge for 25 years, including assignments on the gang unit and as a homicide detective. He now has a masters in criminology, is pursuing a PhD and teaches at Norquest College.
He spoke to CTV News Edmonton Thursday about a plan unveiled the day before to have 12 Alberta Sheriffs assist EPS officers with crime and disorder downtown during a 15-week pilot project starting later this month.
"I think the intention is good. I think the necessity to be very, very prescriptive in how it's actually being done might be a piece that's missing," Jones said.
"There's a potential that they're actually creating harm rather than reducing harm. By that, I mean: zero-tolerance policing, also known as broken-windows policing, when you flood an area, blitz policing, those things don't actually reduce crime and harm. The evidence is clear in the research."
The move to bring sheriffs in is part of the Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force, which was assembled in December and includes provincial ministers and the city's police chief.
"In downtown Edmonton, the issues are clear: crime, homelessness, addictions, mental health are problems seen on every corner. As a result, businesses are leaving, and people are leaving," Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said Wednesday, adding this is just the first step.
"We are going to fix this…We are going to restore confidence."
The addition of sheriffs will increase patrols to seven days a week and 20 hours a day.
"Despite their best efforts our EPS officers and our current resources could only be in so many places at one time," EPS Chief Dale McFee said at the sheriff announcement.
Jones applauded the inter-agency approach to dealing with what he considers legitimate safety concerns felt by downtown residents, workers and transit riders, but said a poorly-managed crackdown in the inner-city could delegitimize police in the long term.
"If you're getting a ticket for riding on the sidewalk in Chinatown and you're not getting a ticket for riding on the sidewalk in Terwillegar Towne, you're now showing a differential level of policing," Jones explained.
"And that harms police legitimacy with the individuals in those inner-city areas."
He strongly suggests EPS officers and sheriffs use the method of "hot-spot policing" instead, citing studies he said found that officers simply being visible for 15 minutes a day can reduce crime in that space by 30 to 80 per cent.
"Just go, be in a place for 15 minutes. Be aware, be happy, say hello, be aware, be noticeable. No action imperative. [Officers] don’t need to get into people’s pockets, don’t need to arrest people on warrants, don’t need to write tickets," Jones said.
"I was a beat officer, I was told to write the tickets, I was told to do all these things. And in the end of it realizing [that] just being present was what often deterred crime."
The sheriffs will augment EPS officers recently deployed as part of the Healthy Streets Operations Centre, which is tasked with tackling disorder in the Chinatown and Alberta Avenue areas.
That centre has teams of police, peace officers, paramedics and firefighters, as well as community safety liaisons who respond to incidents to provide a holistic safety solution.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi welcomed the provincial reinforcements but said more has to be done to address the root causes of crime and disorder
"The disorder that we are seeing in our streets are a direct result of homelessness, addiction and mental health crisis that we are facing in our communities and I welcome the province's intervention in this," Sohi told reporters on Monday.
"These are provincial responsibilities and they haven't really stepped up to provide necessary support to struggling Edmontonians and the impact is more disorder."
Typically, sheriffs are focused on traffic safety enforcement on provincial highways, commercial vehicle inspections, prisoner escorts and security at the legislature and courthouses.
In 2021 the province expanded Alberta sheriffs' authority to also assist RCMP officers in rural areas.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson and Adam Lachacz
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Canada makes amendments to foreign homebuyers ban – here's what they look like
Months after Canada's ban on foreign homebuyers took effect on Jan. 1, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has made several amendments to the legislation allowing non-Canadians to purchase residential properties in certain circumstances.
'Leave this with me': Alberta premier heard on call with COVID-19 protester
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, in a leaked cellphone call, commiserated with a COVID-19 protester about his trial while divulging to him there was an internal dispute over how Crown prosecutors were handling COVID-19 cases.
What is the grocery rebate in federal budget 2023? Key questions, answered
To help offset rising living expenses, the Government of Canada has introduced a one-time grocery rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians. Here is what we know about the rebate.
Spending to increase economic capacity is fiscally responsible, Freeland says in post-budget defence
Defending her latest federal budget, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said spending that increases economic capacity is fiscally responsible.
Victim of Vancouver stabbing had asked man not to vape near toddler, says grieving mom
The family of a 37-year-old man who was stabbed to death in Vancouver last weekend says he was attacked after asking someone not to vape near his young daughter.
From royal titles to animal testing: The law changes coming in the budget bill
The 2023 federal budget released this week includes a series of affordability measures, tax changes, and major spends on health care and the clean economy. But, tucked into the 255-page document are a series of smaller items you may have missed.
opinion | Don Martin's sorry-to-be-cynical prediction on the federal budget
The only thing most Canadians will remember about the budget this time next week is how the booze tax increase was reduced to two per cent from six, writes Don Martin in a column for CTVNews.ca.
RCMP interviewing Canadians held in detention camps in Syria: sources
CTV News has learned that RCMP officers are currently in northeast Syria, interviewing Canadians held in detention camps in order to bring them back to Canada. The three Mounties have so far interviewed only Canadian women in Al-Roj camp.
Actress Melissa Joan Hart describes helping children flee campus after Nashville school shooting
Actress Melissa Joan Hart says she was near Nashville's Covenant School soon after Monday's deadly shooting of six people, including three children, and helped some students get away from the scene.
‘I started breaking down:’ Friends remember 15-year-old homicide victim
A 15-year-old girl shot to death in the community of Martindale early Tuesday morning, has now been identified by friends and police as Sarah Alexis Jorquera.
Calgary archaeologist launches foundation to support female field researchers
A Calgary archaeologist wants to help more women get out in the field by launching the Fair Field Foundation, an organization to break barriers women often face.
Online video between Danielle Smith and Artur Pawlowski raises questions over interference
In an online video, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is heard speaking with outspoken Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski, creating questions about her influence on Alberta court cases.
Saskatoon police release video of 3 people placing 'large container' in dumpster where body was found
Saskatoon Police Service is asking for the public’s help in identifying three individuals they believe are connected to a suspicious death.
Dog that attacked five-year-old Saskatoon boy involved in three other attacks
CTV News has learned a dog that attacked a five-year-old boy last week had been declared dangerous in February 2022, but the city had lost track of the owner a year ago.
Saskatoon will have its own baseball team in 2024
A Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) team will take to the field in Saskatoon in 2024.
Evan Bray retiring as Chief of Regina Police Service after 28 years with RPS
Regina's Chief of Police Evan Bray has announced his retirement from policing, but said he plans to pursue other opportunities in the future.
Regina police watching for highly potent 'tranq dope' in local drug seizures
Police in Regina are on the lookout for xylazine, a dangerous animal tranquilizer spreading into Canada's illegal opioid supply.
Saskatchewan to spend $6 million for some hip and knee surgeries in Calgary
The Saskatchewan government is set to spend up to $6 million to send patients to Calgary for hip and knee surgeries.
N.S. mass shooting inquiry report must deliver 'clear commentary': family lawyer
A lawyer who represents Nova Scotia mass shooting victims' families said in an interview they are hoping "for clear commentary on what things went wrong and what things ought to have been done better or differently."
Cold front to sweep mix of snow, rain across the Maritimes Thursday
A low-pressure system moving north of the St. Lawrence River valley will sweep a cold front across the Maritimes on Thursday.
How Portapique residents past and present are dealing with reminders of the 2020 mass shooting
The eve of the release of the final report from the inquiry into Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting is a reminder for residents of Portapique of their small community’s traumatic past.
Toronto police officer accused of failing to properly investigate woman's 'repeated pleas' for help before her murder
A Toronto police officer is facing disciplinary charges after he allegedly failed to 'conduct a sufficient investigation' into a woman's 'repeated pleas' for help with an ex-boyfriend that she had come to fear, just days prior to her murder.
'What motivates someone to do this?' Meat left in Mississauga, Ont. parks in apparent attempts to feed wild animals
Large amounts of meat are being left in public parks across Mississauga in an apparent attempt to feed wild animals and officials say that they are growing increasingly concerned about the practice.
A rare weather phenomenon strikes southern Ontario again
Thundersnow has struck southern Ontario for a second time this month.
Bill 15: Quebec tables legislation to overhaul health system
The CAQ government has unveiled its long-promised plan to improve Quebec's public health network. Tabled at the Quebec legislature Wednesday by Health Minister Christian Dubé, Bill 15 promises a major shakeup.
'I lost a brother': Funeral held for teen who died in Old Montreal fire
Almost two weeks after his death, a funeral was held in Laval Wednesday for a teenager who died in the fire in Old Montreal.
Quebec's health-care reform plan draws backlash from
Quebec's sweeping new health-care plan—Bill 15—drew mixed reaction following its announcement Wednesday. Several health-care professionals say it's a massive undertaking—especially for a health minister who initially said he didn't want reform.
LRT | Stage 2 of Ottawa LRT faces further delay
The long-awaited southern extension to Ottawa's light rail network is facing a further delay, a city committee heard Wednesday.
WEATHER | Cold front could bring brief burst of heavy snow Wednesday
Environment Canada says a sharp cold front is expected to move through eastern Ontario Wednesday, which could bring a blast of heavy snow.
Meet Zedd! CHEO's new therapeutic clown
CHEO introduced its new therapeutic clown to patients and the public on Wednesday. Zedd takes over for Mollypenny, who retired last year.
'Fairly emotional for everybody': Teen struck by LRT visits emergency crews who rescued him
Several weeks after a teen was stuck under an LRT train in Kitchener, he’s now up and walking and visited the emergency crews who helped rescue him.
Cambridge municipal election candidate suing city after names left off ballot
A retired political science professor says he was “stunned” by the way the Cambridge municipal election unfolded.
Businesses weigh in on government’s plan to reduce credit card fees
The federal government is touting plans to help small businesses by reducing credit card fees, but some local merchants say while they welcome the measure, the actual impact it will have on their operations will be minimal.
Northern Ont. family ‘ecstatic’ as 25-year-old murder mystery finally solved
Robert Steven Wright was convicted Wednesday of murdering Renee Sweeney, a little more than 25 years after her brutal killing shocked the community.
BREAKING | Robert Steven Wright found guilty in Renee Sweeney murder
CTV News has learned the jury in the Robert Steven Wright has found him guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Renee Sweeney in Sudbury on Jan. 27, 1998.
Driver caught travelling 200km/hr on major Ontario highway
A 20-year-old has been charged with careless driving after travelling double the speed limit on a major Ontario highway.
Manitobans should prepare for a gas price hike according to an expert
Come the weekend, Manitobans will be paying more for gas and the price could climb even higher in the coming weeks and months according to a gas expert.
Brandon pauses city plan open houses over 'inappropriate and unsafe behaviour'
The City of Brandon has paused its public consultation on its 30-year plan for the city due to 'inappropriate and unsafe behaviour' from some residents.
Missing teen possibly seen in Selkirk: RCMP
RCMP is asking for the public’s help to find a missing 15-year-old teenager from the RM of St. Clements, saying they’re concerned for her well-being.
'Something isn't working in the system’: VPD operation highlights concerning shoplifting trends
During a three-week operation dubbed Project Barcode, Vancouver police say they made 217 arrests and recovered nearly $80,000 in stolen merchandise.
Squamish Nation embarks on ambitious plan to become one of largest developers in Canada
The Squamish Nation announced Wednesday it intends to undertake comprehensive developments on 350-acres of land spread on several parcels in North and West Vancouver, Squamish and on the Sunshine Coast.
'She was a force against ableism': Tributes pour in after sudden death of former Paralympian Arley McNeney
B.C.-born former Paralympian Arley McNeney died suddenly last week, her family revealed Tuesday.
IIO investigating after man driving construction vehicle shot, seriously injured by police in Duncan, B.C.
A man was taken to hospital with serious injuries following a police shooting in Duncan, B.C., on Tuesday evening.
Police investigating 'targeted' attempted arson at home in Saanich
Police are investigating what they believe was a targeted arson attack at a home north of Victoria.
B.C. parents win battle to put son's Indigenous name on his birth certificate
After 13 months of fighting, the parents of a Campbell River, B.C., boy have received a birth certificate that accurately reflects the spelling of his name.