EPS early intervention unit reaching at-risk members, police commission hears

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An Edmonton Police Service unit that flags issues that could affect an officer’s wellness or performance referred more than 1,300 critical incidents to member support in 2021.

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In a presentation to the Edmonton Police Commission Thursday afternoon, Sgt. Brad Yanick of the early intervention unit, said it is not a punitive process but focuses on personal development and wellness, while helping to manage risks to members and to the service as a whole .

“We try to identify the critical incidents and those can be defined as high intensity or especially emotional difficult calls that have the potential to overwhelm the natural coping skills of the members,” Yanick said. “A few examples of these could be fatal collisions, severe assaults or homicides, offenses involving children, assaults on members or officer-involved shootings.”

Those in the unit can then reach out to members involved in these incidents in a timely fashion to see if they need support, which members can then voluntarily take part in.

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In 2021, an analysis was completed on about 2,000 alerts, 90 per cent of which were closed without needing any intervention.

A five-year review analysis showed 83 per cent of members did not have to be contacted again for the same indicator. Of the 17 per cent that was contacted again, the average timespan was 387 days apart while proactive member contacts increased to 46 per cent in 2021, from 18 per cent in 2016.

Yanick said the unit also conducts a bi-weekly report of all critical incidents that ensures the number of these types of incidents that service members have attended is being looked at cumulatively as well.

“We look for service-wide patterns (while) also looking for individual behavior patterns,” Yanick said.

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Staff Sgt. Glenn Klose of the employee family assistance section said it’s important supervisors know what is going on with those they look after.

“A street supervisor, a street sergeant or watch commander, have to be really paying attention to their folks, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year to truly get a sense of ‘What are the events that my folks are going to? What are the events that are potential triggers for my individual officers?’” he said.

Last year, contacts with members increased by 83 per cent from 2020, and up 194 per cent from 2019, due to providing awareness education to the service about the unit, as well as through building working relationships with other units.

“Members and peers and supervisors are reaching out on their own because they know who we are and how we can help in assisting in their performance development,” Yanick said.

Police Chief Dale McFee noted that with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on frontline service members, it is important to have healthy members so they can deliver a “healthy service.”

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