Edmonton city council has voted in favour of having city administrators work with the city’s community safety and well-being task force to come up with ideas for potentially implementing recommendations in the task force’s new report on racism, diversity and safety in Alberta’s capital.
“Today it was a difficult conversation, but ultimately it was very encouraging,” Laila Bellony, a member of the task force, told reporters after the vote at city hall on Tuesday.
“We’ve provided the base for a good conversation to continue and so it’s now in the hands of policymakers.”
The task force was put together by the city last year after public hearings revealed many Edmontonians have concerns about racism and policing in the city.
In its report which was released last week, the task force makes 14 different recommendations, including freezing funding for the Edmonton Police Service until that figure is similar to other similar-sized jurisdictions cited in the report, creating an integrated dispatch centre to better identify whether police or others should respond to certain situations, increased anti-racism training for police officers and creating a professional college to help regulate police.
City council’s vote calls for city administrators to put together a report within 90 days and then report to a city committee, outlining “quickly actionable items” within the city’s control that could be implemented. Council has also asked administrators to look into the issue of funding for police, comparing it to other jurisdictions and looking at the idea of bringing in “performance accountability mechanisms” and to report back on those suggestions “in tandem with the Q1 2022 report.”
“What we’re setting up is a policy conversation about what’s the right investment in policing and how do you adjust that fairly on an annual basis,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
Iveson said he was pleased to see that city council is taking the report seriously and taking action.
Bellony said the task force worked hard to look closely at issues she believes have not received enough attention over the years.
“What we wanted to get across was that there’s been a breach of trust in certain communities — in racialized communities — with the police, and we really want to repair that so we’ve come up with some recommendations that we feel that would start to build those bonds,” she said.
–With files from Global News’ Sarah Komadina
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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