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Sheriffs in town: Edmonton gets downtown enforcement boost – is Calgary next?

While Alberta’s capital city is getting an enforcement boost, Calgary may be next on the list to have sheriffs come to town.

The Alberta Government and the Edmonton Police Service announced a 15-week pilot project beginning in late February to put Alberta Sheriffs in that city’s downtown area. The goal is to improve safety and deter crime and social disorder.

Twelve sheriffs will be working with EPS officers to increase patrols along trouble districts in that city. According to the province, it will increase the patrol area and allow them to extend patrol coverage to seven days a week, 22 hours a day.

The province said the partnership was a direct result of the Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force.

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services said that more police presence was a direct request from the Edmonton police, their Chinatown district and other downtown organizations.

“Partnerships and collaborations like this are going to play a key role as the task force continues to address complex issues like public safety, homelessness, addiction and mental health,” he said in a prepared release.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she wasn’t sure of the exact solution for Calgary moving forward. She was mum on the provincial effort being duplicated in this city’s downtown.

“I can tell you though, that whatever solution is coming forward, there has been engagement with Calgary Police Service,” she said Wednesday.

“I’m confident that our partners who are in charge of safety are looking at this very seriously and coming up with a collaborative approach.”

Downtown, transit safety on the province’s radar

The province has been working with the city on ways to not only improve safety in Calgary’s downtown but helping address homelessness, mental health and addictions.

Back on Oct. 1, 2022, the province announced millions over two years to increase access to mental health and addictions treatment.

Any new solutions coming to Calgary will be an extension of that ongoing work, the mayor said.

“I just see this being a continuation of their commitment to our city,” she said.

She noted there’s also a taskforce, formed in December, working on the public safety issues in Calgary.  

“Anything we can do to address the issues that we’re seeing around public safety and addressing some of the criminal element is important and if our local police service is getting support from the sheriffs, that’s a good thing,” she said.