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June 8, 2020: Mark Neufeld, Calgary's Police Chief, "Policing in Calgary".     Calgary Police Service website

Mark Neufeld was the former Police Chief in Camrose prior to coming to Calgary in June, 2019. He is also the President of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police.

He started his career in 1992 with the Vancouver Police Service and shortly thereafter moved to Edmonton, where he spent 24 years with the Edmonton Police Service. He spent 12 years as a frontline patrol officer, including in Edmonton’s diverse inner-city where he worked with residents and community partners to address neighbourhood crime, disorder, and social issues. He also has experience in undercover operations, incident command, crisis negotiation, and as a member of the EPS Public Order Unit working on the G-8 and G-20 summits, Stanley Cup and Grey Cup deployments, as well as the 2006 riot.

Neufeld recently completed a masters in criminology and police management at the University of Cambridge. He has also completed the CACP Executive Global Studies program, where he studied international approaches to cyber crime, and the International Executive Development in Policing program from the Canadian Police College and Hong Kong Police College.

Neufeld was promoted to the role of detective in Internal Affairs in 2004 and to staff sergeant in the Intelligence Section in 2007. In 2007 he successfully assisted with the implementation of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).

In 2010, he was promoted to the rank of Inspector and assigned to Professional Standards where he led the development of a strategic planning process that resulted in the restructuring of the branch, the civilianization of numerous investigative and administrative positions, and an increased emphasis on alternative dispute resolution and complaint prevention.

Neufeld was invested as a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in 2014. He is also the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Police Exemplary Service Medal, and the Alberta Law Enforcement Long Service Medal. He and his wife, Lynn, have four adult children.

These are unprecedented times. Mark gave us an overview of:

  1. pre-pandemic times with the recession looming,
  2. the current environment and Covid-19 impact,
  3. his view on the George Floyd death and resulting global impact.

2019 By the numbers:

Mark arrived in June 2019 and was well aware of the downturn in the economy in Alberta and more so in Calgary. He showed us a few graphs; the first on Calgary Violent Crime over a 10-year period which was relatively flat until 2013 and started to show a significant increase from 8 to 14 thousand over the next six years. Numbers on a 100,000 per capita basis show an increase from 700 to 1,000 over the same period, which are somewhat reflective of the economy. Calgary is still considered to be a very safe city.

Domestic violence showed a higher rate of cases – 2,792 in 2013 to 5,943 in 2019. Again this is on per 100,000 residents basis, 241 cases to 462 in 2019. Still a sizable increase. Some of the key drivers include mental health, addiction and methamphetamine.

Similar trends are evident in property crimes. Prior to 2013, these crimes were relatively flat. However, since 2013 cases have increased from 36 to 61 thousand.

  2018 2019
Break and Enter 9,883 10,478
Robbery 1,073 1,113
Assault 9,279 9,579
Sexual Offences 1,332 1,319
Calls for Service 585,000 561,000
Shootings 47 89
Stolen Autos 6,919 6,927
22% above the 5 year average

Complexity of policing has changed based on the following factors.

  • Legislative changes – marijuana, eatables, etc.
  • Justice System – Court capacity taking too long
  • Technology – pros and cons – need for in-depth investigating into social media
  • Aging infrastructure – Calgary is spread out and services have been also moved to communities
  • Supervised consumptive services
  • Workplace culture
  • Budget uncertainties – even more so with Covid-19 impact.

Covid-19 Impact – what we are seeing now.

  • Reduced calls
  • Reduced residential B and E
  • Increased frauds, scams, extortions, phishing
  • Increased domestic violence and child abuse
  • Increased drug use and overdose
  • Increased suicide and mental health issues

Recent events in Minneapolis and across North America have raised concerns, emotions and protests, and Calgary is no different. Canada policing is quite different from the US where there are over 18,000 policing agencies. Our system is based on the British module where “the police are the public and the public are the police”. The Calgary Police Service is well connected to other agencies and is considered the premier police force in Canada.

Numerous questions were asked, some of which are outlined below:

  • Bryden Horwood: What are the major criteria for hiring future police officers?
    Response: Pretty much the same as it is today ie: education, age, physical requirements. etc.
  • Tim Anderson: I need to ask and relate to a serious issue about seniors being targeted and victimized by scams. Linda and I have a friend who has had over several hundreds of dollars fraudulently taken from her.
    Response: It’s almost impossible to get the money back once it has been taken from an account. The police focus is on prevention. However, Mark requested Tim send him the information as this fraud has probably been targeted in other jurisdictions in Canada and he will advise them to be on the lookout.
  • David Watson: Please provide an EXACT definition of DEFUNDING.
    Response: Defunding is basically cutting back on the budget allocated to police enforcement and provision of the funds to other areas, such as social services. A proposal is before city council to reduce funding by 40%.
  • Duncan Stanners: What proportion of crime is attributable to gangs, and what steps are being taken?
    Response: There is an anti-gang strategy which is focussed on urban crime. It is comprised of education, prevention and offender management. Refer to youthlinkcalgary.com.
  • Bill Quinney: Do Calgary Police Officers wear cameras?
    Response: The Calgary Police Service body worn camera program is guided by the following five key principles:
    1. Collection of evidence;
    2. Enhance transparency, public trust and confidence;
    3. Enhance officer accountability and professionalism;
    4. Protect officers from unfounded allegations of misconduct;
    5. De-escalate a situation.
    The Tsuu T’ina Police also wear cameras.
  • Drew Turnbull: The chief's tthoughts on the Trudeau government gun ban and how they have not addressed the issues of illegal weapons getting into the hands of criminals.
    Response: The laws currently in place are sufficient. A gun ban will do little to combat criminals from obtaining guns.
  • Nketti Johnston-Taylor: What sort of anti-racism and or diversity training is offered to the police?
    Response: New recruits take 30 hours of training on diversity, de-escalation and effective communication.

President Gerry expressed the appreciation of the club to Mark for the generous giving of his time, and for dealing with complex and challenging times.

reported by Mike Carlin

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