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'Diversity is a strength': Dale McFee is Edmonton's new top cop

Edmonton's incoming police chief is stressing the importance of diversity and inclusion to help build communities and keep them safe.

'We need to be diverse right across the system so we actually reflect the population'

Edmonton's new police chief, Dale McFee, calls on his Métis upbringing for inspiration in his role as a community leader. 0:46

Edmonton's incoming police chief is stressing the importance of diversity and inclusion to help build communities and keep them safe.

Dale McFee, who will take over former chief Rod Knecht's job in February, was introduced to Edmonton at a news conference Wednesday.

​"Diversity is a strength," said the 53-year-old McFee, who is Mé​tis. "But I want to make sure that we include that diversity isn't just race. It isn't just gender. It's thinking and it's all of the above.

"We need to be diverse right across the system so we actually reflect the population."

He admitted he's doesn't know how diverse the Edmonton Police Service is at this point, but made a commitment to get that information and to make diversity a priority issue.

"Certainly if we need to make some changes, we will," McFee said. "But I don't believe those are hard changes to make."

McFee emerged as the most qualified candidate after a five-month nationwide recruitment process, the police commission said.

"The commission believes that Dale truly fits this city's commitment to be service-focused, strategic and innovative," police commission chair Tim O'Brien told the news conference at police headquarters.

"He can deliver on the service's vision to make Edmonton the safest major city in Canada and to continue to be recognized as a leader in policing."

Dale McFee will take over former chief Rod Knecht's job in February 2019. (CBC)

McFee adopted new recruiting strategies while he was the police chief in Prince Albert, Sask. He managed to grow Aboriginal representation among sworn members to 38 per cent.

In 2011, McFee was named Prince Albert's citizen of the year. He had been police chief for eight years by then and had been with the Prince Albert Police Service for 25 years.

Edmonton police commission chair Tim O'Brien introduces incoming chief Dale McFee at a Wednesday news conference. (Janice Johnston/CBC News )

As McFee spoke at the podium in police headquarters, dozens of officers and civilians surrounded the atrium listening to their new boss.

"To the men and women that I will be serving with, I don't have all the answers, but I have lots of good and proven ideas," McFee said. "I have two ears and one mouth, and I learned early on that listening is more than waiting for your turn to talk."

McFee also made a commitment to meet with community leaders "as soon as possible, to ensure they have what they need from us to help address issues in their local environment."

Since 2012, McFee has been the deputy minister of Corrections and Policing in Saskatchewan.

In Regina, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said McFee's move to Edmonton will be felt in Saskatchewan.

"He's very much a loss to the province," Morgan said. "He was always somebody who was focusing on the bigger picture and where the province needed to go.

"I'll miss him."

Nickname: Mucker

McFee has a long history in hockey. He played left wing for the Prince Albert Raiders for four seasons, from 1982 until 1986. He served as assistant coach for the team during the 1993/94 season, and later was president of the Raiders' board of directors for a decade. He's still on the board.

With a laugh, McFee acknowledged his long-standing nickname is Mucker. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a mucker as "a person, especially a hockey player, known more for tenacity and hard work than for remarkable talent; a grinder, a digger."

Asked to explain how he got the nickname, McFee said, "Not afraid to go in the corners, I guess.

"And at the end of the day, that's what it's going to take with our partner agencies, in a nice way. That's what we're going to need."

An official swearing-in ceremony will be scheduled in early 2019, the commission said. McFee has been given a five-year contract.