City Peace Officers to bring education, increased enforcement to community effort against COVID-19

Expect to see more public health enforcement warnings and more tickets issued over the coming weeks, said Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin. 

“With their expanded authority, City Peace Officers will be closely coordinating with other regulatory agencies in the enforcement of the new restrictions starting Monday,” Laughlin told a physically distanced meeting of Edmonton City Council on Thursday, December 10.

“This is serious and we will enforce these restrictions to ensure that everybody’s health is taken into consideration at this time.” 

Laughlin said the City issued 28 tickets and 371 warnings between December 3 and December 9. The tickets were for failing to wear a face covering, and the warnings were for public health orders. 

A physically distanced meeting of Edmonton City Council on December 10, 2020.

City Peace Officers now have the approval under the provincial Public Health Act to respond to complaints and to enforce temporary COVID-19 restrictions announced by the Government of Alberta. 

A ban on all social gatherings—whether indoors or outdoors—and a province-wide mask mandate in all indoor public places are now in effect. At 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning, closures across a wide range of business, recreation and personal service sectors take effect for at least four weeks. 

Peace Officers will focus on face coverings, public social gatherings and physical distancing, and will work with colleagues at Alberta Health Services and the Edmonton Police Service when asked for support in enforcing other restrictions.

Training, procedures

City Peace Officers know the current public health assignment is high-profile and can be high-temperature. 

They rely on their training (including de-escalation techniques), personal protective equipment, safety procedures and each other to stay safe—and to keep members of the public safe, too. 

“I’ve been doing this for several months now, I was at the EXPO Centre and I am very proud of how the City of Edmonton has done this,” said Peace Officer Robert Moore.

“I walk through the malls and businesses and I see that people care,” Moore said. “They’re doing their part. They’re staying distanced. They’re having the tough conversations with family members. There are going to be people who disagree. But you have a job to protect others.”

Peace Officer Sgt. Jonghwan Rhee said the work of enforcement officers is part of the bigger work of the community to turn back the surge of COVID-19 in Edmonton.

“We have to be together,” Rhee said. “We have to work through this together and follow the guidelines. We are here to help and protect Edmontonians.” 

Complaints from the public

Peace Officers are part of a system of information-gathering through which data and complaints are recorded, prioritized and assigned.

If the complaint is about face coverings or physical distancing not being respected, please use the forms at the bottom of the City of Edmonton masks page. 

If the complaint is about public health order violations, including self-isolation, social gatherings, workplaces or businesses, please use the Alberta Health Services online form or call 1-833-415-9179.

Keith Scott is the City of Edmonton’s Director of Complaints and Investigations.

“We all understand that everybody has COVID stress and it’s not easy to have rules telling people what to do,” he said. “Issuing a ticket is the last thing we want to do, but we have to get through this, and it’s going to take an effort from everyone to follow the rules.”

Some hope

Laughlin ended his presentation on a positive note. 

“In a week that has been focused on what not to do, I want to leave the Committee with reassurance that the City is building hope and resilience into our actions,” he said. “Where we can, let’s support local businesses, let’s do random acts of kindness and let’s all do this safely.”