Dale McFee, the new head of the Edmonton Police Service, speaks at a press conference held at the Edmonton police headquarters on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.
Dale McFee, deputy minister of Saskatchewan who formerly served as chief of police in Prince Albert, will be sworn in as Edmonton's 23rd Chief of Police on Feb. 1.
When he was announced as Edmonton's new chief in November, he said he did not think he was inheriting a "broken" service, but it remains to be seen whether his approach to policing differs from that of his predecessor, Rod Knecht.
McFee sat down with reporters on Dec. 12 to talk about his vision for service. Here are some tips on the new boss's philosophy, his thoughts on controversial files and his past as a prolific scorer.
He believes that policing requires "exit ramps" to direct people to treatment.
McFee said that one of its main goals is to keep people who do not need to be in the justice system outside the justice system.
"I always use the analogy: we need to arrest the people we're afraid of, not the ones we're angry at," he said.
Crimes stemming from addiction and mental health were problems in Prince Albert, he said, as in Edmonton. He said police control "entry" into the justice system, but that there should be "ramps" to get people to treatment.
"At the end of the day, we can be very good at law enforcement," he said, but police also need to do "upstream" work with health, social services, education and community organizations to support vulnerable people.
He will analyze the policy of the service to selectively identify victims of homicide
Under Knecht, Edmonton police began to contain the names of some homicide victims. Police said they are responding to legal advice on privacy legislation and will only disclose the names of homicide victims if this serves a "investigative purpose," such as tracking the killer.
The practice is controversial with some in the media and in the legal community, who say that the names of people who die violently should be part of the public record. (names of homicide victims are still available through the courts as soon as someone is charged).
This year, police have retained the names of 11 of the 28 homicide victims, including one man stabbed during a robbery at a bus stop and several homicide victims. They even began to retain the names of some accused, as was done in the case of Ashton Lafleche, who is accused of killing two girls.
"I agree that we need to look at this and it's something I promised to do when I'm here," McPhee said.
He is a mom for now in the police budget.
For the city council, the police budget request this year was a difficult pill to swallow.
Police called for an increase of $ 87 million in annual funding over the next four years to address marijuana legalization growth and expenditure.
Coun. Andrew Knack said that this would make Edmonton's annual police budget higher than Calgary's at a time when other civic agencies are making cuts.
The council eventually gave the police enough to hire 101 officers, but postponed another $ 12 million in proposed spending.
McFee, who was not involved in the budget process, declined to go into detail on the matter.
"I thought there were some very good questions asked by the board, I thought my team did a great job of presenting some of the things we are facing," he said. "Let's find out this from now on."
He will analyze whether the police should apologize to the LGBTQ community
Last year was tricky for the LGBTQ police and community. In June, protesters blocked the Pride Parade, demanding that police involvement be banned over abuses suffered by the community at the hands of the police.
Asked if he would attend Pride Parade, McFee said, "If I'm invited and my schedule is free, I have no problem with that."
As for whether he would deliver an apology to the LGBTQ community, as was done in Calgary:
"This is something I know my police service is working on now … If (a) the apology is what needs to be done. I have no problem apologizing, but I will not apologize until I really understand why I'm apologizing. "
He lit the "Dub back in the 80s"
McFee earned the nickname "mucker" in Saskatchewan for his willingness to go to the corners in difficult policy files. He also spent some time in the royal corners, unearthing pucks as a wing for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.
McFee played left to the Raiders between 1982 and 1986, and had some impressive seasons. According to his Elite Prospects page, he placed 106 points in the 1985-86 season – 47 goals and 59 assists. He was later assistant coach of the team and went on to become its president.