Edmonton Minute: Police Funding, Transit Survey, and Controversial DNA Phenotyping
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
- Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a holiday, so proceedings at City Hall will begin on Tuesday. Tomorrow, there will be an Agenda Review Committee meeting at 9:00 am, followed by a Community and Public Services Committee meeting at 9:30 am. At the latter meeting, the agenda will include an update to the Homelessness and Encampment Response Strategy and a report on Opportunities for Small-Scale Community Amenities, Recreation, and Leisure Spots Downtown.
On Wednesday, the Executive Committee will meet at 9:30 am to discuss the progress of the development at Blatchford, a sale update on the Evansdale Surplus School Site, and a ward boundary policy review. On Friday, there is time set aside at 9:30 am for the continuation of the Community and Public Services Committee Meeting if it does not conclude on Tuesday.
- Edmonton is running Phase 2 of public engagement regarding “Mass Transit: Network Implementation for 1.25 Million People” project. There is an online survey focused on street design options that will allow for non-LRT mass transit on key roads, particularly Gateway and Calgary Trail, 97 Street, and 87 Avenue near West Edmonton Mall. There are also online working sessions that participants can register for, regarding each segment of road. Be sure to make your voice heard!
Last Week In Edmonton:
The Edmonton Police have apologized for their controversial use of DNA phenotyping technology. This process, used for the first time in the organization’s history, claims to be able to predict physical appearance and ancestry of suspects from unidentified DNA evidence. EPS had released a photo of a Black man with short hair alongside information describing a person of East African descent in order to identify a sexual assault suspect. In a statement, EPS said that the visual profile was far too broad a characterization and it was not an acceptable trade-off to prioritize the investigation “which in this case involved the pursuit of justice for the victim, herself a member of a racialized community, over the potential harm to the Black community.”
- Speaking of police, Council was also set to discuss a new police funding formula, but the discussion was derailed by a perceived conflict of interest. A 75-page “Police Budget Review” is one of the materials being used in the decision-making process. The document was produced by the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance - a non-profit of which EPS Chief Dale McFee is the chairperson and president - and paid for by the Edmonton Police Commission. Councillors Rutherford, Tang, Paquette, and Salvador all voted to remove the report from consideration but were overruled by the other nine. The EPS alleges that the Chief was not involved in this report. Later in the week, Council approved a funding increase for EPS.
- Council has decided to give withheld funding back to End Poverty Edmonton. The money was withheld because of a damning report that found the organization did not have ways to measure its success and lacked transparency in its governance structure. An updated review showed progress, and even though some issues remained, an 11-2 vote released the remainder of the $2.1 million funding.
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