“Sorry”: Edmonton police say officers ought to have helped homeless individuals who had been faraway from the LRT station
EDMONTON – Edmonton Police Department apologized for removing homeless people who were sheltering from the cold at the central LRT station over the weekend.
“We should have arranged transportation or helped access the services of our partner organizations to keep our most vulnerable people safe and warm,” said deputy chief Al Murphy on Wednesday morning at a meeting of the community and public services committee.
“We have to do better and we’re sorry.”
Due to a complaint by the citizens, an investigation was initiated by the professional association of the police.
Not good enough for Rob Houle, who is part of the task force that was formed after the public hearings on police violence last summer.
“We have had cases in the past where these citizen complaints lack transparency in the way they are investigated and in the results of those investigations,” said Houle.
The apology followed days of public and civil outrage over the incident, the videos of which were posted on social media by the Bear Clan Patrol.
Volunteer Melany Beatty – who was there on Sunday evening – described the behavior of the officers who responded as disrespectful and “one step less than the yelling”. She said the group that distributed food and clothes were told they could offer help outside the station but were then accused of hanging around changing clothes.
“Personally, I don’t think the apology is that – it’s not enough. I was the one who actually filed the complaint, so hopefully the investigation will go a little further, ”she replied on Wednesday afternoon.
“I know an apology is better than nothing, but several people were driven out into the cold that night.”
The actions “reflect neither the values of our community nor the tireless efforts of many social institutions,” added Rob Smythe of the city administration.
Both he and Murphy pledged to the city and its authorities to improve their extreme weather protocols. On Tuesday, Murphy met with the Bear Clan Patrol. And according to Smythe, work is already underway to create a common standard working order with EPS.
“We strive to do something good for our citizens and to deliver the services they expect with compassion and empathy,” promised Murphy.
“I am so happy that we brought the conversation to the table,” said Judy Gale, leader of the Bear Clan Patrol. “I very much hope for change. With an apology, you know, forgiveness and change come.”
INQUIRIES DUE IN SIX WEEKS
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting included a discussion of the city’s new framework for improving relations with indigenous communities.
“In a way, the timing was nice because there was an opportunity this morning to heal and learn,” Mayor Don Iveson said of the coincidence of the two talks.
At the beginning of the meeting, a request he had made for a formal investigation into the incident was accepted.
In six weeks – half the time normally allotted for such a request – the administration will submit a report to the committee on the city’s extreme weather procedures, including expectations of how they will be followed and how they were carried out over the weekend.
“These pledges and the apology and accountability, especially on the part of the police today, do not cure any of this, but rather help, in a way, to ground the paperwork that is to follow in the essence and in the spirit of reconciliation. “He later told the media.
However, Iveson said the problem shows the city’s continued pressure for provincial and federal help to find more permanent solutions.
“Here too, living is the solution,” he said, adding, “There were still people who would rather be outside than in certain types of accommodation. And that tells me we have to set some minimum standards.”
As reiterated by Smythe on Wednesday morning, the city is no longer using LRT stations as emergency shelters as expanded shelters opened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this activation, there was always room in the protection system for anyone seeking access to it,” he told city councilors.
“LRT stations are cold, they are uncomfortable and they are certainly not suitable for sleeping. They do not meet the definition of an acceptable place to stay an obstacle to access to suitable facilities. “
A night bus service was offered for the last day on Tuesday; Edmonton’s extreme weather log disabled Wednesday.