Edmonton police chief set to tackle city's growing meth problem

Crystal meth is destroying the community and needs to be dealt with, said the Edmonton police chief Thursday as he vowed to tackle the problem.

'People are dying. We have to deal with it now,' says Dale McFee

Chief Dale McFee says tackling the growing crystal meth problem in Edmonton is a priority for EPS. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Crystal meth is destroying the community and needs to be dealt with, said Edmonton's police chief Thursday as he vowed to tackle the problem.

Chief Dale McFee told the police commission that dealing with the deadly drug is a priority for his service.

"People are dying," said McFee. "We have to deal with it now. It's the one drug that seems to be getting missed. Everybody talks opioids, everybody talks marijuana and the one that's destroying our community is the one in the middle which is crystal meth.

"You stay up sometimes for days, you go out, you're seeing high numbers of car chases you're seeing property crime."

McFee said his daily morning briefings reveal the gravity of the situation.

"It's nine, 10 cases of meth being involved, whether it's seizing meth, whether somebody is under the influence of meth, whether it's erratic behaviour, whether it's significant violence," said McFee. "So it's a priority because it's disproportionately showing up in our calls."

Last December, figures from Alberta Health Services showed that the number of people seeking treatment for crystal meth addictions had tripled over the past five years, rising faster than any other substance.

McFee said the situation requires a response not only from law enforcement, but public health agencies and community.

EPS has already started bringing together health agencies, the justice department and Statistics Canada, said McFee, who relied heavily on data-driven responses in his former roles as Saskatchewan's deputy minister of corrections and policing and police chief in Prince Albert.

McFee emphasized the importance of a balanced approach. While it's up to police to stop dealers, health agencies must ensure people with addictions get the treatment they need, he said