News / Edmonton

City still concerned about diversity in Edmonton Police Service

Police Service failing to reflect community, but so too is city council: McKeen.

Metro file

The city remains concerned about a lack of diversity at the Edmonton Police Service, the police commission heard at a meeting on Thursday.

Commissioner Karen MacKenzie asked Edmonton police representatives why a slower economy wasn't attracting younger, more skilled recruits.

Police representatives said policing has a bad image at the moment. 

Being a police officer isn't a popular occupation right now, Deputy Chief Tony Harder said, referencing a series of shootings of black people by the police in the United States that has caused backlash from minorities.

“There's a stigma attached to policing,” Supt. Dave Christoffel added. 

Edmonton police launched the Diversity Positive Recruiting Communications Plan in 2015 to increase members from visible minority communities.

But getting recruits from diverse backgrounds will take time, said Coun. Scott McKeen.

“The truth is, we have people moving to Edmonton from all parts of the world, and in some of those parts of the world, the police are oppressors, they represent the disappeared and so they could be a pretty scary lot,” he said.

”How do you change that attitude pretty quickly?”

A push to get recruits from diverse backgrounds shouldn't just be a “lip service,” McKeen said, adding it's important the police reflect the community.

“I don't think it's doing that very well, but neither is council right now, neither are lot of the board and agencies,” he said. “The best we could have some day is a police service that is extremely diverse.”