Home Month and Year March 2020 Could Private Sector Participation Help Law Enforcement?

Could Private Sector Participation Help Law Enforcement?

Terry O'Flynn.

Is crime on the rise in Alberta? It certainly seems so. We cannot ignore or downplay the increased liquor store thefts and rise in rural crime.

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) fights crime, helps steer potential criminals to a better path and supports the city’s most vulnerable. But for many reasons, including our stressed economy, crime sprees are growing faster than crime solutions.

In my opinion, the EPS does their best to service the needs of the city, but they also need to continue seeking opportunities to be creative and innovative. However, under the constraints of an annual budget, it can feel impossible to affect any sustainable innovations to policing.

Is this where the private sector with its problem-solving entrepreneurial spirit comes in? Maybe… just maybe!

The Edmonton Police Foundation is made up of several Edmontonians that care deeply for our city. This group has created a method, in conjunction with our progressive and forward-thinking police chief Dale McFee, to assist the EPS. The method is called Community Solutions Acceleration (CSA) and involves a collaborative and innovative strategy that changes the way to look at challenges and solutions.

The founders of the CSA method recently held an information session in which they provided this pitch about this truly innovative solution:

The CSA will help solve our community’s biggest problems like homelessness, addictions, mental health challenges and other issues that affect not just Edmonton, but communities all around the world. We will do this very differently and for the first time, using data coming from health, social services, law enforcement and other sources. Machine learning and AI will be applied to this amalgamated data and we will [collaborate with] entrepreneurs, researchers, practitioners, ethicists and others to devise solutions that can be deployed with success, and commercialized.

We need to design smarter, more effective and forward-thinking solutions to community problems [so we can make] significant progress and deliver meaningful outcomes. This means doing things differently, engaging the right partners, and infusing innovation and technology into the fabric of what we do. Through this, we will deliver ground-breaking solutions that can make a significant impact on improving public safety and health, creating a better experience for Edmontonians and Albertans.

What does this modern solution entail? Not relying so heavily on public funds. It calls for a new way of thinking to solve old and ongoing issues. It demands a focus on innovation and collaboration. It calls for private sector involvement.

We all want to see the crime rate go down, homelessness solved, and the city’s most vulnerable protected. We want correctional institutions and facilitators to rehabilitate, not just house, those that break the law. I heartily applaud Chief McFee and the EPS for their strides and accomplishments in these regards. To continue making progress and to combat emerging issues, like the liquor store thefts, we need new ideas. Could Community Solutions Acceleration and involving the private sector be the answer? Maybe. I, for one, look forward to finding out.