EPS Chief defends police commission

Edmonton’s police chief is backing the police commission, following its highly-unusual decision to decline an invitation to Tuesday’s city council meeting.

By Sean Amato

Edmonton’s police chief is backing the Edmonton police commission, following its highly unusual decision to decline an invitation to Tuesday’s Edmonton city council meeting.

“We have a very good police commission. It’s not a rubber stamp,” said Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee.

“We don’t get our legitimacy or transparency from council. We’re responsible to the public.”

Councillors wanted to discuss making more information publicly available regarding audits of police budgets, the city’s largest expense.

Instead, council received a letter respectfully declining the request. In it, the commission defended its auditing process and insisted it was within its rights to withhold details of an audit plan. Council voted to reject the letter — a move that is also very rare.

“I might like a little more information, as a councillor,” said Jo-Anne Wright, City councillor and police commissioner.

Wright hopes the relationship can be rebuilt.

“I hope it’s not due to a power struggle or a control issue. I think we all just need to have a better understanding of each other’s roles.”

McFee suggested council needs to stay in its jurisdictional lane, explaining that while elected councillors set the budget, appointed commissioners decide how to spend the money.

“What’s the role in council, having them see an audit of our weapons, and then sending misinformation out, if that’s what happens? Because it’s not like that hasn’t happened before,” said McFee.

The chief also confirmed that a commission meeting next week will again be held virtually, in part because some commissioners don’t feel safe meeting in public.

“We can make anything safe with the right planning. But the question is, do people feel safe?” asked McFee.

McFee repeatedly insisted he’s not sure why some councillors are upset with the commission or what information they need, but he acknowledged the police will never make everyone happy.

“Regardless of what somebody tweets, regardless of what a politician puts out in the public, they call us names, we’re going to show up because we show up for the citizens of Edmonton. 

Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee. (Photo Credit: Sean Amato, CityNews)

Late Thursday, the police commission announced they’ve requested a meeting with council and an independent, third-party facilitator to improve the relationship for the benefit of Edmontonians.

For the full statement from the police commission, click here.

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