Edmonton

Rod Knecht may seek another term as Edmonton police chief

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht could seek another term at the helm of the city’s police force.

'I don't think I got everything done,' Rod Knecht says

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said another mandate in office is a possibility he will think about over the holidays. (CBC )

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht could seek another term at the helm of the city's police force.

Knecht's contract is set to expire in October 2018, but the chief said renegotiating another term is something he will consider over the holidays.

"I came into this job with some thoughts, some ideas, a vision on where I wanted to take the organization, and I don't think I got everything done," he told CBC News Tuesday.

Knecht has been at the head of the Edmonton Police Service since he took the job in 2011. He came to the EPS after leaving his post as the senior deputy commissioner of the RCMP, the most senior uniformed police officer in the force.

'Robust' response to cyber crime on Knecht's agenda

One of the priorities for Knecht is to create a more robust response to cybercrime in the city, he said.

The EPS cybercrime investigations unit was created in 2014 as a response to an overwhelming demand for services dealing with online crimes., he said.

The cybercrime detail has four investigators working alongside Edmonton's tech crime unit — one of the first of its kind in Canada.

The unit covers everything from identity theft, to cyberbullying and the creation of malicious software.  

Police responded to 144 cases of cybercrime in 2014, according to the EPS website. 

"We have a small unit," he said. "Any crime that can be committed in the real world can be committed in online nowadays, from shoplifting to homicides, and everything in between."

Knecht said a partnership with the RCMP to work on cybercrimes could also be in the cards.

"Policing has historically been very protective of its turf," Knecht said. "I think those days are gone."

Focus on fraud, counterfeit crimes

Knecht said the EPS should become more proactive in responding to all types of economic crimes.

The EPS economic crimes unit responds to complaints of fraud, identity theft, false pretences, credit card offences and all types of counterfeit crimes.

Knecht said the police force has "been so busy on the front lines" that the response to economic crimes is not where it should be.

"We haven't had a chance to really delve into some of the economic crime in the city, you know, the huge amount of monies that are exchanging hands illicitly," he said.

EPS Insp. Peter Bruni-Bossio told CBC News in March that there were 3,982 cases of fraud reported in 2016, a 23 per cent increase from the 3,244 reported in 2015.

In 2015-2016, identity theft, identity fraud and counterfeit crimes were on the rise in Edmonton. The number of identity theft cases reported increased 71 per cent from 52 to 89. Counterfeit crimes increased in the same time period from 141 to 379 reports.

'There are a lot of things we could do better for the vulnerable'

For four years, the EPS has been advocating to create a community wellness centre so the city's most vulnerable can access social programs with ease.

During his 2016 year-end interview with the CBC, Knecht said integrating safe injection sites with a community wellness centre would help the police deal with drugs and addiction-related crimes.

"I was optimistic for probably year one, year two, year three," Knecht said. "I'm becoming frustrated."

Knecht still wants to bring the project forward because he said he believes there are ways the city can make life easier for those that need social support.

"That's something that ... would do well by Edmonton," he said. 

"There's a lot of things we could do for the vulnerable communities here because it's not getting any smaller."

Although a proposal was delivered to the province for the community wellness centre last year, EPS estimates it would take up to three years for the centre to open.

anna.desmarais@cbc.ca

@anna_desmarais

With files from Janice Johnston

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