Pubdate: Thu, 21 Dec 2017
Source: Metro (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Kevin Maimann
Page: 3

Metro talks: Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht


The head of Edmonton's Police Service looks ahead to 2018 with
skepticism around supervised consumption sites,

Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht says police have had a good
but "extremely busy" year. Metro asked him about some of the year's
biggest stories and what to expect in 2018. The interview has been
edited for space.

Metro: Cannabis will be legal July 1. Has EPS backed off marijuana 
related arrests since legalization was announced?

We're busy. Obviously there's lots of crimes, and we enforce crime on

For example, the fentanyl issue. That means a lot of our resources
that are involved in drug enforcement are focused on the fentanyl
issue, getting out the traffickers and manufacturers of fentanyl,
because the costs and the risks are so high.

So are we focused on marijuana?

No, we're not really focused on marijuana. But it's still

Metro: Supervised consumption sites are coming in 2018. What does EPS 
need to do before those open?

We're going to watch that area to see if crime goes up in the area,
we're going to see if there's impact on community safety, we're going
to see if it is actually helping people.

I'm not against supervised injection sites if these people that are
using those sites are getting to a better place -that they're getting
treatment, that they're getting help, that their addictions or their
mental health issues are being addressed.

To just facilitate drug use, I don't get it. I don't think that's what
a responsible society community should be doing, is just facilitating
drug use.

I think what we should be doing is, these people are coming in,
injecting at a site authorized by the government, then what are we
doing to help these people get off drugs? What are we doing about
their mental health issues, their general health issues?

Metro: But the intent of the consumption sites is to offer services so 
people do go in and, ideally, get help to get off the drug or function 
in society.

Yeah. I think - I would hope that's the purpose. I'm not totally
convinced of that, because I think that argument came out sort of
after the fact. And again I worry that we're facilitating drug use as
opposed to helping people. And I think that's the tipping point right

My job is to maintain public safety for all Edmontonians - not just
addicts, but all Edmontonians. I'm OK with it if we're getting people
to a better place.

If we're just saying, 'Come on in, use your drugs and go back out,'
what does that do for the individual, what does that do for society?
Nothing. All you're doing is prolonging that individual's misery. And
I'll argue that with anybody.

Metro: EPS initially referred to the September U-Haul attack as a 
terrorist incident. The accused has not been charged with anything 
terrorism related. Would you have done anything different?

I wouldn't have done anything different. First of all, I think the
front line had a broad awareness of what could we potentially be
dealing with, based on other incidents in other countries and other

I think our folks did a tremendous job of putting that all together.
The tipping point where it becomes a terrorism investigation is when
the ISIS flag is found in the vehicle that strikes a member, and the
guy gets out and stabs a member.

For me, I think they did a tremendous job. For us to label it as a
terrorist investigation, I think that's responsible.

Metro: The deadly vehicle attack in Charlottesville drew attention to 
the rise of violent white supremacist groups. What is EPS doing to deal 
with anti-immigrant groups like Sons of Odin?

That is an issue for us. We have a dedicated Hate Crimes Unit, we
monitor the activities of all those folks. We monitor them both on
social media, online, as well as obviously in the real world. We
gather intelligence obviously on that and we try to get ahead of it.
We're very aggressive when we see any act of hate. We actively
investigate it and we charge folks accordingly. But it certainly is an

Metro: Would you say it's a growing issue?

I was just at my chief's advisory committee meeting a month ago, and I
can tell you that we're actually at fewer hate crimes this year than
last year. That's year to date. The short answer is, we're not seeing
an increase.
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MAP posted-by: Matt