Local News

Edmonton’s police commission seeks mediator to mend relationship with city council

The Edmonton Police Commission wants to bring in an independent third party to help mend its relationship with city council after a back-and-forth dispute between the two sides over transparency.

In December, councillors approved a motion to ask the commission for an audit plan that would outline which parts of the Edmonton Police Service are being audited and provide insight into policing priorities.

On April 19, the commission sent councillors a letter, refusing to provide city council with “information relating to the internal audit plan of the EPS.”

Councillors told Global News the commission was invited to meet with them earlier this week, but the meeting never took place.

The commission then released a statement on Thursday afternoon, titled “Transparency in Police Governance.”

“The EPS budget … is included in the City of Edmonton’s consolidated financial statements and already subject to an independent, external audit co-ordinated by the city on an annual basis,” the commission said in the statement.

“The commission stands by the decision to preserve our internal audit function as it is currently structured because audit material and topics outside of fiscal matters are solely the responsibility of the commission.”

Edmonton’s police commission, an oversight body responsible for striking a balance between public accountability and police independence, said the audit program is focused on internal risks to the organization.

Commissioners don’t believe that type of information is something that should be shared publicly or with council.

“Council does not have operational oversight of the police service and is unable to direct any operational recommendations that may result from any audit process,” the statement said.

Financial news and insights
delivered to your email every Saturday.

“Therefore, the focus of any audit requested by council should remain on its own areas of authority, which are limited to the finances of the police service.”

The Edmonton Police Commission consists of two appointed city councillors — Jo-Anne Wright and Anne Stevenson — along with 11 appointed citizens from all walks of life.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, police chief Dale McFee said both commission and council have significant roles.

“When you use your role effectively and you let the entity that’s responsible for what the discussion is about and take the actions, it’s a lot easier,” he said.

The commission’s statement said on June 6, it formally requested to meet with council and an independent, third-party facilitator “to improve our working relationship by examining the roles and responsibilities of Councillors and Commissioners so that we can move forward constructively for the benefit of all Edmontonians.”

As of publishing, the EPC said it was still awaiting city council’s response to the request.

In a statement responding to the commission’s memo on Thursday, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he is committed to ensuring EPS has adequate funding to improve safety and wellbeing.

He noted council recently increased the police budget by almost 20 per cent.

“It is often frustrating that council is unable to ask questions about whether those investments are making a difference, and how city resources are being allocated effectively to make our community a safer place,” Sohi said.

“I understand that the Edmonton Police Commission has the responsibility to oversee the budget once it has been allocated by city council, but council has a responsibility to Edmonton taxpayers to ensure those resources are used effectively.”

Edmonton’s police commission said councillors still haven’t said if they are open to the idea of bringing in a third-party facilitator.

But Sohi said his office is working with the commission to plan a “facilitated discussion” about how they can work together to communicate with Edmontonians.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *