An ever-growing number of residents of the city of Edmonton, Alberta are starting to ask the question: What the hell is wrong with the Edmonton Police Service?
In roughly a twenty year span, successive serious incidents and allegations have wreaked havoc to the public image of the Capital City’s police force and have now begun to shake the confidence of the citizens in their Finest.
Whether it is whispers about member of the police paying for sex with hookers back in the 1980’s, more recent shouts of ‘racism’, questions of ethics over photo-radar deals, or the more eyebrow-raising allegations of police stings against local journalists who dare criticize the EPS, the people of the Greater Edmonton area have been fed a seemingly-endless diet of one credibility-damaging issue after another.
The public took notice in the fall of 2004 over the so-called ‘Overtime’ scandal, in which it was alleged that some members of the EPS set up a sting in a local bar with the intent of catching Edmonton Sun journalist Kerry Diotte, as well as Police Commission Chair (and EPS adversary) Martin Ignasiak, driving while impaired. What looked dirty to begin with became scandalous when some audio of that night made its way to the local media.
Here is an exchange as two officers try spot Diotte and Ignasiak (who is balding):
OFFICER 1: Nobody is dressed like he is anyway so he will stick out. He's got a real bright royal blue button-up shirt with a tie on and a sports jacket and his shiny, shiny dome.
OFFICER 2: A couple faggy looking guys coming out now. Maybe one of them's him.
Before that, Officer 2 says, "Yeah, I think the guy who gets this target will never have to pay for a drink as long as he lives."
Now the latest has an off-duty officer charged with impaired driving after a crash that sent an 18 year old teen to hospital with serious burns. (Unbelievably, a friend of the cop had the audacity to call his buddy a ‘hero’ for saving the teens life – after he allegedly almost took it away! Some people will blindly support even to most tainted of the Boys in Blue.)
The public has been told that the officer in question has a total of ten charges against him, but that – and here again is an example of bad optics – he has been suspended with pay. The backlash from this little tidbit has filled the talk shows and the Letters section of the local papers. The people are getting disgusted and suspicious of their police.
The citizens of Edmonton now wonder if their city’s Finest are really that at all. Confidence has been shaken, and the attempt at soothing the public fears with ‘internal affairs investigations’ is no longer acceptable. Edmontonians just don’t trust a tainted police force to investigate itself. Too Old Boys Club.
Recent incidents of gangs of thugs ‘swarming’ police officers is shocking, to say the least. The idea of the man on the street not having any respect for the police is a sad sign of the times, and brings into question the idea of the loss of order and the beginning of chaos. No defense can be stated for someone who would attack an officer of the law, and none can be given. But it indicates a glaring lack of respect of the police as a whole, and shows the low level the Edmonton Police are thought of by some of the very people the police are supposed to protect us from. Some now question: Is there a link between the EPS's low public image and the attack?
The Edmonton Police have a large force of ethical and trustworthy officers. The EPS is stacked with hard-working, loyal, and damn fine men and women who put their lives at risk every day. But there is a cancer within that is damaging their reputation on the street, and it’s that cancer that must be cut out in order to restore public confidence in the EPS.