EPS using “private police officers” on murder investigations, alleges police association complaint

The Edmonton Police Association has filed a complaint with the Alberta Labour Relations Board alleging that the Edmonton Police Service is contracting out police work to “private homicide investigators who are acting as private police officers.”

EPA filed their complaint with the ALRB on June 5. It does not yet have a hearing date. 

The Edmonton Police Association is the bargaining agent for Edmonton Police Service officers. In the complaint the EPA asks the ALRB to determine “whether the Police Officer Collective Bargaining Act and the Police Act requires that core policing duties only be performed by police officers employed directly by the EPS.”

Dan Behiels, a police whistleblower and former EPS detective, says he is familiar with this practice, which in his experience typically uses ex-cops. 

“Where is the line? We’ve always had civilian analysts but now you have tasks like writing warrants or analyzing the results of search warrants or production orders that are going to civilian roles,” said Behiels. 

“One thing I take issue with is, are they covered by the Police Act?”

Behiels also said that this practice expanded considerably under the leadership of Chief Dale McFee. 

EPS downtown division. Image via Mack Male.

Curtis Hoople, the president of the EPA and the EPA’s lawyer, Patrick Nugent, are listed as the applicants. Katherine Salucop, the executive director of human resources at the EPS, is listed as the employer contact for the complaint. 

Dan Jones, a criminology professor at Norquest College and a 25 year veteran of the EPS, sees why the EPA made the complaint but also understands why EPS is doing it. 

“EPS is trying to fill a void by hiring former homicide investigators, people with investigative backgrounds. For the union, it’s a slippery slope. You start replacing police jobs with more civilian jobs and you have less police jobs. The collective agreement is there for a reason,” said Jones. 

According to Jones and Behiels a contributing factor for the EPA complaint is also that private police officers working on murder investigations would not be paying union dues or contributing to the pension fund while still doing police work. 

“This is an ongoing conversation in policing: what do you need a sworn police officer to do?” 

Jones pointed to the increasing use of civilians in the EPS’ dispatch department.

“One of the negatives of civilianizing communications is that that was a good place to put someone who was getting burned out on the street and they could still contribute. Or they were injured. Now you take those away, you flatten out the opportunities for police officers,” said Jones.

“I don’t have a problem with trying to do things differently. But I do have a problem with breaching collective agreements.” 

The Edmonton Police Association and the Edmonton Police Commission did not reply to inquiries. The government of Alberta referred us to the EPS which doesn’t answer our questions.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story referred to the communications department instead of the dispatch department. We regret the error.