Edmonton's new police chief given 5-year contract

Rod Knecht, the senior deputy commissioner of the RCMP, is Edmonton's new police chief.
Rod Knecht speaks to reporters Friday at a news conference announcing him as Edmonton's new police chief. (CBC)

Rod Knecht, RCMP Senior Deputy Commissioner, was announced as Edmonton's new police chief Friday after city council unanimously ratified a five-year contract.

"I am truly grateful," said Knecht. "I see a tremendous opportunity to be a part of making Edmonton the most safe and vibrant city in Canada." 

Knecht will retire from his Ottawa post and return to Edmonton June 1, 2011. The Red Deer native lived in Edmonton for seven years as head of RCMP operations in northern Alberta and says his family considers the city their home.

Knecht became aware of the position in early February when he was contacted by corporate headhunters.

"I have 34 years with the RCMP. I was nearing retirement and this opportunity came up and I seized upon it," Knecht said. "A lot of it had to do with the right place at the right time."

Knecht was chosen for his senior leadership qualifications, international policing experience and commitment to community-focused policing, the Edmonton Police Commission said.

He won the position from a pool of 100 referrals and 22 formal applications.

"We've seen incredible progress in the Edmonton Police Service over the past five years and I expect this will continue under Rod's leadership," said Mayor Stephen Mandel.

Crime in the city has dropped by 38 per cent in five years, while public trust in the Edmonton Police Service continues to climb, something Knecht said he hopes to build on.

Edmonton Police Association president Tony Simioni said Knecht will face some challenges when he joins the force, including a high number of junior officers.

"He does have a lot of credibility with respect to his operational experience," Simioni said. "And he comes highly recommended and highly spoken of, so we're hoping for big things."

Knecht will take over from Mike Boyd who stepped down as chief for family reasons in December 2010.