Edmonton’s Downtown Enrichers
Edmonton City Centre is proud to be a collaborator within Edmonton’s downtown. As the largest group of retailers (80+ stores) and businesses tenants (TD Tower, 102A Tower, Centre Point Place) we are passionate about all of downtown, the people, residents, businesses, workers, commuters, shoppers, tourists. This series is our way of reflecting on some of the people that are making a difference in your downtown and enriching the community with the work they do. We hope you enjoy the series.
Darren Derko – Deputy Chief, Community Policing Bureau
As the Deputy Chief of the Community Policing Bureau, Darren is responsible for providing leadership and operational support to the frontlines of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). This includes actively managing crime trends, moving resources to problem areas, and measuring the effectiveness of these tactics and processes.
Through his 34 years of service Darren has gained a comprehensive understanding of community policing. During this time, he served as the Deputy Chief of the Corporate Services Bureau, the Superintendent of Northeast Division, and as a special advisor to the Alberta Justice and the Solicitor General to help create greater awareness of the challenges of policing major urban centres.
He has helped to improve communication and collaboration with partner agencies, businesses, and diverse community groups, and continues to be actively involved with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and the Major City Chiefs Association (MCCA).
Darren is passionate about policing and in helping to shape the future of community safety and well-being in Edmonton.
- Can you share the range of support services EPS delivers to the community?
Police are a 24/7 service and communities expect us to be the first response for a variety of reasons, not just criminal matters. The EPS has many support services including community engagement, victim supports, traffic matters, public safety and community wellness supports and of course responding to crimes on people and property. The initial response typically comes from our patrol members who are located in 6 branches around the city and organized in what we call a ‘Bureau’. This Bureau has approximately 1000 police officers assigned to Patrol, Beats, Disruption, Healthy Streets Operation Centre (HSOC) and Investigative Response.
- Downtowns can have challenges and in the last 2 years they have become more evident. How do you think Edmonton and its leadership are adapting. What’s working?
Partnerships are key in addressing some of the challenges currently being faced in our Downtown. We need to find a balance between holding people accountable when they commit crimes and recognizing the need for supportive services to treat mental illness and addictions where crimes aren’t committed. This is a very complex issue as many things come into play with mental health, abuse, and addictions. With some of the partnerships we have formed, we try to get individuals to the supports they need in a timely manner.
Through these efforts we have a better understanding of what other agencies can provide and are seeing a level of trust being formed through working together. There’s a better understanding of what police officers offer, and what other agencies can provide.
Far too often police are seen only as ‘law enforcers’ but this is far from the truth. Enforcing laws are only a part of what we do. When crimes are committed, EPS can’t just turn their heads away. Having said that though, the people in EPS are very compassionate and want the best for our city, and our vulnerable communities. They work hard to keep the city safe and continue to look for ways to get people in need to the right supports. Sometimes people refuse supports though, and unfortunately when that happens there’s often very little that can be done.
- What do you think is the impact of developments like Ice District and the upcoming Station Lands on the downtown community?
Development and growth downtown is encouraging and seeing more people use and enjoy the services that the Ice District and the new Station Lands provides will have a positive effect on the culture downtown, as well as the success of other businesses in the area. EPS working with these communities and businesses ensures there is a level of safety that keeps people enjoying entertainment and supporting downtown businesses, as well as living there.
It’s critical for the health of the city to feel safe downtown and continue to have growth and development.
- How do you see the value of Edmonton City Centre as downtown anchor property?
Edmonton City Centre is truly located in the Heart of Edmonton. Not only within the City Centre can you find shopping, food, and entertainment, it is closely connected to other services, entertainment and dining you would expect a large city to offer. The businesses and services are needed to continue to build a more vibrant and safe area.
I work downtown and have witnessed the challenges being faced by many businesses and workers in our downtown core. Edmonton City Centre is collaborating with EPS and working hard to provide security and a safe environment for people to shop and work; they also care about the vulnerable and together we are working to provide social supports and services we recognize are needed.