Edmonton police still struggling to meet response time targets

The Edmonton Police Service has slightly improved its response time for emergency matters, but is still struggling to reach its targets.

Police chief says it can take two to three days to respond to non-emergency calls

Police Chief Rod Knecht's contract wasn't extended by the Edmonton Police Commission. (CBC)

Edmonton Police Service response times have improved slightly for emergency matters, but police are still struggling to reach response targets.

According to a report presented to the Edmonton Police Commission, EPS received 166,788 calls in 2017, up two per cent from 2016.

The vast majority of those calls are for non-urgent matters, classified as priority 4 or 5. 

"We don't have enough police officers to respond to every single call to meet those priority levels," said Chief Rod Knecht. 

When it comes to urgent calls, where a person's life is at risk, the service hit its seven-minute response time target in 72 per cent of calls, compared to 71 per cent in 2016.

More calls for property crime

Police try to respond within three hours to less urgent crimes, but only met that target 59 per cent of the time last year.

Knecht said the nature of crime has changed in Edmonton over the years, with calls for property crimes on the rise. 

"We have a lot more folks complaining about property crime," said Knecht. "So we just don't have the capacity to meet those targeted times." 

He encouraged victims to report property crime through the EPS website, to reduce the need for police officers to respond in person. 

Slowest response in southwest

Statistics show the southwest division of EPS has the slowest response times. 

The target for high-priority emergency calls was met 51 per cent of the time in 2017, and 56 per cent for low priority, non-urgent calls. 

Knecht cited Edmonton's geography as a factor in response times. 

"When we have one bridge, and we have to cross that one bridge to get to that destination, that's really a bottleneck for us. It's a challenge for us," he said.

EPS is hoping to improve on its response times by being more efficient in its dispatching.