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Four-year price tag for Chinatown safety center $18 million: City report

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Edmonton’s city government has released a partial price list for a new center aimed at reducing crime and social problems in Chinatown.

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Next week, city councilors will consider a staff report on a proposed “Healthy Streets Operation Center” in the wake of a series of high-profile crimes in Chinatown, including the killings of Ban Phuc Hoang and Hung Trang.

Operating the facility — which will be staffed with a mix of police officers, peace officers and city workers — is budgeted at $18.1 million over the next four years. The figure presented in the report does not include the two-year EPS expenditure or the capital costs of setting up a physical location for the centre.

Councilors received conflicting information about whether an increased police presence in Chinatown would transfer crime and disorder to other communities.

Chinatown businesses and community members demanded better protective services after Hong and Trang were killed on May 18, blaming the deaths on “decades of neglect” and the concentration of social agencies and homeless shelters in their community.

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It later emerged that the accused killer, Justin Bone, had been dropped off in the city’s west end days before the crime by the RCMP, despite a court order in the city of Edmonton.

A new one proposed for Edmonton's Chinatown
Preliminary budget for a new “Healthy Streets Operations Centre” proposed for Edmonton’s Chinatown. City of Edmonton photo

Edmonton police deployed extra officers to the community after the killing, Chief Dale McPhee said, adding that the expanded police presence in Chinatown comes at the expense of other areas of the city.

During the June 20-24 meeting, council asked the administration to work with the Edmonton Police Commission to create a business plan for a more permanent solution — specifically, a Chinatown facility that would host “multidisciplinary community safety teams” aimed at curbing crime and disorder. the neighborhood

According to the report, the teams are made up of city staff, police and community groups who engage in regular patrols of “hot spots” of crime and disorder.

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If approved, the city will hire approximately two dozen new employees, including peace officers, community safety liaisons and fire prevention officers, who will work alongside the new crop of EPS officers. The report says the service is looking to hire 36 full-time equivalents to help staff the centre.

Officers on foot stop at specific problem areas for 15-20 minutes every two hours, a method of hot spot policing known as the Copper Curve.

EPS is currently looking for a location to house the facility, the report said, adding that its costs “need to be further explored.” The city’s four-year spending of $10.7 million represents a tax levy increase of 0.11 percent in 2023 and another 0.05 percent in 2024.

As for whether a larger police presence drives crime to other neighborhoods, the city report and the EPS business plan offer different answers.

The administration report states that studies on “hot spot” policing “consistently found no significant displacement and, in some cases, no spillover effect, meaning that hot spot policing reduces crime in areas adjacent to hot spots.”

However, the EPS plan states that “crime and harm may shift from a concentrated area to surrounding areas”, which may introduce “areas unaccustomed to high rates of crime and harm”.

The report is scheduled to be tabled before the council on Monday.

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