Friday, February 8, 2008

EPS and EPSB

Last night, I attended an open meeting with the Edmonton Police Service, West Division, which seems to coincide almost perfectly with Ward C. The meeting was poorly attended, but the Police Chief and all the officers were very gracious. It was an important lesson to me: appreciate those who DO come out, rather than pining for those who DON'T. If you focus on the people who aren't there, the ones who have made the effort to come out feel inadequate.

I was very impressed by the work EPS is doing. The Police Chief talked candidly about the feedback his town hall meetings had generated... most of it negative. Rather than being defensive about the criticisms, EPS fearlessly embraced them and used them to propell themselves into improving their level of service. Prior to the town hall meetings, their response time to high priority calls was 18 minutes and the public wasn't pleased. Rather than point to lack of resources or argue with the public that there was nothing they could do to change the situation, they devised a new deployment system. Now, 9 months later, their response time is 7 minutes, which may be the fastest in Canada. EPS seems focused on meeting community needs, responding with care to every public concern and actively building partnerships.

I asked some questions about how EPS and EPSB could work together more closely to help at-risk kids in particular. They were very open to new ideas. We agreed that investing in our youth today and being proactive, creative and collaborative in our approach makes good sense.

All and all, it was well worth venturing out into the cold and dark. It reminded me that we have amazing people in this city.

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