Edmonton police response performance fell 2.3 per cent last year, report finds

The Edmonton Police Service's overall response performance fell by 2.3 per cent last year compared to 2018, according to a new report.

The report found that 61 per cent of calls met the target response time. In 2018, that number was 63.3 per cent.

The report was presented to the Edmonton Police Commission on Thursday afternoon. 

"We've got some pretty good indications and some ideas on how we're going to do this better, but I think we've got to get around the thinking that response times are the key to solving crime," police Chief Dale McFee said. "It's not."

Increase in call volumes 

While the average response performance decreased, the volume of calls increased last year by 2.2 per cent. 

The report said police received 3,700 more calls than they did in 2018, which, the report said, is "in line with what one would expect from annual population growth in Edmonton." 

Calls are broken down into five priorities. A priority-one call means a person is at risk, with a target response time of seven minutes or less. Priority five means the nature of the offence is not time sensitive and has a target response time of three hours or less. 

Out of the 173,587 calls received last year, more than 92 per cent of were priority four and five calls.

"You can't improve the priority-one response until you do something different with the priority fours and fives," McFee said. "Because it's the same people taking these calls, right?"

McFee said a focus should be reducing the volume of priority four and five calls that are "jamming the system" 

"We don't want people to stop calling us, we just want to have a more effective manner to get them connected to something, so they don't need to call us," he said. 

New deployment model 

McFee said EPS is looking at analytics and developing a new deployment model for 2020. The current model dates back to 2008. 

The new deployment model will have three superintendents in charge of two divisions each and a fourth superintendent in charge of other services, beats and crime reduction. 

Out of six police divisions, the EPS southwest division has the slowest response times across all calls. McFee said some of those challenges will be addressed through the new model.

"Now we can actually deploy resources based on trends and patterns in real time … to hopefully alleviate some of this," he said. "We've divided the city into these divisions, but we've never looked at the city as a whole city."