The Edmonton Police Department is recruiting more officers from a variety of life experiences
The Edmonton Police Department’s efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive service could pay off.
Over the past three years, more than 60 percent of new hires identified as Indigenous, Black, or gender or sexually diverse—a total of 159 hires:
Of the new hires last year, 7.6 percent were indigenous and 49 percent black.
The first class of 2023 held a graduation ceremony at City Hall on Friday. Edmonton’s 28 newest police officers hail from nine countries and speak 14 different languages - one recruit speaks six – while most also have post-secondary education, including a former teacher and a former nurse.
Congo-born Constable Ronald Agealea Nyikabe, 35, grew up in Edmonton where he runs his own construction company and volunteers. But something else called.
“I felt like this was a good way to engage more with the youth in my community,” Nyikabe told reporters Friday before the ceremony.
“I also wanted to be a positive role model.”
As a teenager, Nyikabe recalled being afraid of facing the police. That changed when a high school resource officer with a South Asian background became his role model.
“I didn’t want my children and many of the youth I work with in the community to feel the same way. Same – I don’t want them to be scared of someone wearing a badge,” said Nyikable.
“I figured instead of just talking about it…why not be someone they can look at, someone they don’t have to fear, someone they can say, ‘You know what, if he can do it, I can do it it also.'”
Diversity within the Edmonton Police Department has come a long way since recruiter and Staff Sgt. Leanne Kilb joined the service 20 years ago.
“When I started, we were fortunate to have a woman in every squad,” Kilb said.
The service, which had a total of 1,968 members as of 2021, now has more than 410 policewomen.
Klib said police have recently increased their efforts to attract and retain officers with diverse backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives.
“We’ve done a lot of work and we still have a lot of work to do,” Kilb said. “But representing these communities is hugely important to us and we really get their feedback on how we can do better.”
“Bring Who You Are”
Strategies for recruiting from more diverse backgrounds are outlined in the Police Service’s Action Plan and Strategic Plan 2023-26, which lists one of its five goals as nurturing and supporting diverse talent.
Late last year, EPS rebranded its recruiting message to “a service that serves all” hiring “community-minded leaders.”
“Bring who you are,” the website reads.
Specific recruitment programs include working with recruiters to allow aspiring candidates to make connections and ask questions. There is also a mentoring academy to support applicants and a department dedicated to equity, inclusion and human rights and breaking down barriers to recruitment.
EPS has also changed the promotion process by ensuring that members of underrepresented communities are included in interview panels
Temitope Oriola, a professor of criminology at the University of Alberta, said the focus on retaining these officers is key.
“A lot depends on the atmosphere within the Edmonton Police Department,” Oriola said in an interview on Friday.
“Whether we keep these people in the medium to long term and how they function as officers on our streets. Do they serve as agents of change?”
For Nyikabe, he is ready to serve with a future goal to follow his example and serve as a resource officer for Edmonton’s youth.