Page 31 - Edify-Nov-Dec-2023
P. 31

“We Simply Cannot
Have This”
W hen Enyinnah Okere was named to the Top 40 Under 40 two years ago, his biggest joy
came from learning that his wife, Michelle, was also part of the Top 40 Under 40 class.
But, as the Edmonton Police Service’s chief operations officer of the office of the chief, he felt that in a time where the “defund the police” slogan was everywhere, he likely woudn’t be selected. He was happy to have been wrong about that.
What he’s noticed over the past two years is how the narrative around police is changing.
“In terms of the last couple of years, we’re getting to a place where it’s OK to say that you appreciate the work that our organization does and our front-line officers and what they have to do in the City of Edmonton,” says Okere. “But we’ve had some low points, too — like the murder of two members earlier this year. It’s been a roller coaster.”
Crime, encampments, mental health and addictions have all been hot-button topics in the city, and Okere believes that more and more of us are comfortable with the police taking part in those conversations. “We need to have a larger discussion about what we tolerate as a society. What do we want in terms of acceptability? What happens when you become numb to seeing someone smoking crack, or seeing someone expose themselves, or even defecation or someone carrying a knife? There are so many folks who want this city to be something great, they want it to be vibrant. And I think it’s going to take a collective effort to say, ‘we simply cannot have this.’”
He says that, yes, many people in camps, those suffering addictions, are victims. They need help. They need social services. But families who have put their money into busi- nesses, people who are nervous to walk the streets, they are victims as well.
And he says there has to be an understanding of how much this has strained EPS.
“We also can’t be everywhere, right now. We are stretched very thin right now.” –Steven Sandor

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