Metcalfe and Barren
There is sometimes a misperception that small towns in rural regions don’t have crime. The 2021 statistics for the city of Edmonton show that even small towns have their fair of mischief and many bigger problems.
Last year, the Edmonton Police Department (EPD) made 167 arrests and opened 47 investigations. Chief Delaney Wilson and his staff of patrolmen worked 97 non-injury accidents, and 7 injury accidents. They issued 396 citations, responded to 668 complaints, responded to 52 animal complaints, and 59 alarms.
They also responded to 77 domestic disputes, 30 drug complaints, and 21 fights.
The EPD conducted 381 traffic stops and assisted 65 motorists. They also served 87 warrants and did 52 welfare checks.
Although these numbers keep pace with their annual reports, the nature of the crimes the EPD deal with has changed.
Chief Delaney Wilson has been with the EPD for 25 years. That’s a quarter of a century of living and working in Edmonton and seeing various changes in law enforcement.
“Technological and digital crimes have changed everything. Now we deal with Facebook and Twitter threats, and it’s opened up the door to lots of other kinds of problems,” Wilson said.
Drugs have long been a problem, but the types of drugs have changed.
“I still remember the first meth case I worked,” Delaney Wilson said. Methamphetamine is still a problem, but he says in the city pills are the biggest issue.
“Pills are cheap, they’re easy to get, they’re not technically illegal, so trafficking prescription pharmaceuticals is very common,” said Wilson.
Despite the ever-present challenges, Chief Wilson says he feels fortunate not to have any major crimes in recent times.
Strengths and Goals
Chief Wilson maintaining a 24-hour police presence the department provides helps to deter more crime.
“Having that 24-hour presence in the city is really important,” he said.
He also says that he encourages his patrolman, to close cases as soon as possible.
“Always tell them that when they get a case to work the case, because the longer the time gap (years) between it happening, and at closing the less of a chance there is,” said Wilson.
In 2022, it is Wilson’s goal to keep his department healthy and on the streets.
Like all law-enforcement organizations, a challenge that the EPD faces is manpower.
“It’s a twofold problem, its retention and it’s a low amount of applicants and,” Wilson said. “Nobody wants to be the police anymore.”
Wilson says he feels that this comes from the ever-evolving negative perception of law enforcement pushed by national media.
Chief Wilson and his patrolman try to combat that perception by visiting the schools and keeping a positive presence in the community.
“We will have parents come here, and they will even ask that we scare their children, and tell them that we will arrest them if they don’t do this or that,” Wilson said.
“I won’t do that. I will talk to a child, but I never want to let a child’s first experience with the police be something bad that they remember all their lives. I want them to remember we are not the enemy and they can come to us for help,” he added.
Chief Wilson says that for the most part small town living has advantages.
“Even though people look at the police differently these days, in a small town like this we still get the respect. We treat people with dignity, unless they give us a reason not to, and they respect us.”