Edmonton's record number of killings in 2011 may expand the city's homicide unit permanently, says Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht.

To handle the high murder rate, 10 officers were reassigned to the 16-member homicide unit last spring.

The office may stay larger, said Knecht.

"We're probably going to have to bolster our numbers in homicides permanently," he said. 

"We'll still carry over over 20 unsolved homicides from 2011 alone into 2012 that will continue to require investigation.

"We also have over a 100 unsolved homicides on the books from previous years."

Edmonton finished the year with 47 homicides compared to only eight in Calgary.

Knecht is also hoping to hire more officers than usual this year.

He has asked the city for nearly $5 million to boost the numbers of the rank and file.

"We're looking at four classes here this year," he said. "We're going to have two classes of 36 very early in the year and then two classes of 21."

The classes may expand depending how many senior officers retire in 2012 or if the crime rate remains high, he said.