The Edmonton Police Service has introduced a new specialized unit focusing on repeat offenders.
They're calling it the Diversion and Desistance (D&D) branch. It will concentrate on Edmonton's top 200 most prolific and persistent offenders, police said in a news conference Tuesday.
The 200 were chosen out of the roughly 55,000 offenders who are in Edmonton on any given date, said acting Sgt. Renee Martynuik.
"These are high-need folks, these are folks that have never had supports before. These are folks who have never had an opportunity to try a different life before,' Martynuik said.
Police said the group of 200 offenders is responsible for 4,418 occurrences between 2016 and 2020 — one quarter of which took place in the past nine months.
Similar offender management strategies have been used by Edmonton police for the past six years.
By creating the new branch, police and social workers will be able to work with up to 65 offenders at a time.
"The vast majority are really quite prolific and persistent property offenders," Martynuik said.
The goal is to work with offenders to stop their criminal behaviour and keep them out of the criminal justice system.
To do that, the officers will take a different approach using specific units within the new branch, police said.
Police have contracted three new social workers who will be paired with repeat offenders to try to get to the root of why they continue to commit crimes.
"Some of the things that we do is develop a relationship with our offender, with empathy and with patience, and really respect where they are at in their process at that time," Martynuik said.
"We offer some assistance, but if the offender continues to offend to commit crimes, they will be held accountable."