The Edmonton police plan for the Edmonton Oilers playoff run will get the final touches over the next few weeks, but it has been ready for months. In many ways it’s been 11 years in the making.
“This is a natural evolution for the police service,” Deputy police chief Brian Simpson said Wednesday. “This community is growing. We often have a multitude of events in this city at a given time, two concerts going, two major street events, so this is becoming more of our norm as a police service.”
Lessons were learned in the ’06 cup run that saw the Oilers go to game seven in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was a build up over four rounds that saw police at one point be very lenient, then a crackdown when near-riot conditions erupted on Whyte Avenue.
“Our practice always is, we use a term front end load. We’ll have all the necessary resources that we need for that event given any contingency,” Simpson said.
“Experience is a good teacher and we definitely know where we have to prepare and what we have to look at and those plans have been underway for some time.”
Plans are always reviewed, Simpson said. They’ve even checked their notes from learning from the experts, officers from the U.K. who know a thing or two about crowd control.
“We haven’t brought in any experts, but we do bring in training on a regular basis to our incident command, to our public order units from the U.K. in particular. They have a lot of experience so we do draw on expertise outside our police service to augment and train our membership across the board.”
Over 900 were arrested or detained in ’06.
“We’ll be fair, but we’ll be stern and that’s just how we police these events as it is,” Simpson said.
“We’ve identified specific areas in the city where we feel there may be larger than normal crowds and we’ve got plans in place to deal with that.”
The final plan won’t be in place until April 10. That’s when EPS expects the first round of the schedule to be out.
Simpson said the cost is going to be $50,000 to $60,000 an event for extra staff and overtime. The total last decade was $2.1 million, however inflation has done a number on costs since then.