Edmonton Police Association

Our History

As we review the history of Edmonton, it is difficult to visualize that in 1892, two small communities were vying to outdo each other in growth and importance. Strathcona lay on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River and Edmonton graced the north banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Although the Dominion of Canada Land office was in Edmonton, Strathcona utilized every possible method to lure the Dominion Land office to the south side of the river. The feud between these two communities made it necessary to establish a “Police Force”, as it was known then, to keep the peace.

The devolvement of the “Police Force” also brought about the normal human resource, labour and contractual issues as they are known today. In an attempt to resolve them, the City of Edmonton Policeman’s Association was formed to strictly be a bargaining agent for serving Police Officers.

Shortly after the formation of the Association, charity and welfare issues made it necessary to establish the City of Edmonton Police Benevolent Fund. The Policeman’s Benevolent Fund functioned as an entity of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association, however; both the Association and the Benevolent Fund had a slate of Executive comprised of a first and second President, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer.

Available records do not indicate when the Executive structure of both the “Benevolent Fund” and the “Policeman’s Association” changed. The changes in the Executive structure authorized the Charity and Welfare Committee to function under the direction of the Edmonton Police Association Executive Board. Following is an abbreviated history of the Edmonton Police Association comprised of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association local No. 74 and the Edmonton Police Benevolent Fund. For the sake of historical clarity as well keeping dates in a chronological order, the “History of the Edmonton Police Association” is divided into two sections. They are:

  • The Edmonton Policeman’s Association
  • The Edmonton Policeman’s Benevolent Fund

Around 1910

The first police vehicles were introduced around 1913.

THE EDMONTON POLICEMAN'S ASSOCIATION

On June 20 1892, a Special Meeting of Council was held to discuss the likelihood of a disturbance to occur within the municipality known as Edmonton. The Federal Government contemplated moving the Dominion Land Office to the Municipality of Strathcona. The residents of Edmonton did not want the Land office to be moved from their town and the concern of Council was that the civil authorities would be unable to suppress the unruly crowd. At this special meeting, Bylaw 15 was introduced, passed and enacted. This Bylaw provided the authority to appoint two (2) Constables for the Municipality of Edmonton. The strength of the “Edmonton Police Force” remained constant until 1903 when two additional Constables were hired. The “Edmonton Police Force” now had one (1) Chief of Police and three (3) Constables.

During the latter part of the 1800’s and the early part of 1900, the Town of Edmonton grew to be known as the City of Edmonton. During and after the First World War, labour unrest struck every sector of the country including police agencies in Canada. Because of the unrest, members of the Edmonton Police Department sought to become involved in a union that would provide assistance in establishing job security. The economy remained constant until 1905.

Edmonton Police Officers, 1903

After 1905, the town of Edmonton prospered and Alberta became a province making it necessary to hire more Constables. In 1909, the strength of the Edmonton Police Department rose to 25. In 1911, the strength of the Police Department rose to 44 and the following year, an additional 36 members were hired for a total of 80 members. During the war years, the Police Department hired very few additional members. In 1942, the strength of the Police Department was 94 members.

Edmonton Policeman’s Association, Local No. 74

In the early part of 1919, the City of Edmonton Policeman’s Association, Local No. 74 was organized under the” Edmonton Trades and Labour Council”. The Edmonton Trades and Labour Council was “Chartered by the Dominion Trades Congress and the American Federation of Labour”. On August 4, 1919, the Constitution and Bylaws of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association were developed and forwarded to the Trades and Labour Council. On September 2, 1919, the Trades and Labour Council passed the Constitution and Bylaws. In essence, the sworn members of the Edmonton Police Department now belonged to a labour movement.

The main purpose of the “Edmonton Policeman’s Association local No, 74” was  “a Collective Bargaining Vehicle” with respect to contract negotiations” for Police Officers. Invariably, and due to the general mandate of a labour movement, the Policeman’s Association soon involved itself in a controversial civic labour strike in Winnipeg, Manitoba. On the 24 May 1919, a special meeting was held to consider whether the members of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association were in favour of striking in sympathy with the Winnipeg strikers. The result of the ballot was 57 members were in favour of striking where as two members were opposed of striking. Due to the lack of historical information, the outcome of the strike vote is not known.

Job Security during the depression

On 12 Dec. 1932, the City of Edmonton passed Bylaw 43 known as “The Volunteer Pension Fund for members of the Police and Fire Departments of the City of Edmonton”. This Bylaw was instituted to provide Police Officers and Firefighters a pension plan upon retirement from the Edmonton Police Department and the Edmonton Fire Department.

In 1935, clause 10 of the “Collective Bargaining Agreement stated “The Police Force of the City as a body shall not be affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council or with any political body. Clause 12 of the same agreement stated that “The members of the Force shall observe all rules and regulations made for the government of the Force”. Clauses 10 and 12 of the Agreement between the Edmonton Police Association and the City of Edmonton terminated any Trade Union affiliation for Edmonton Police Officers.

From 1935 until the end of the Second World War, contract agreements between the Edmonton Police Association and the City of Edmonton provided little monetary gain. This was due to the downturn in the economy, specifically the depression and the results of the depression. During the war years, contract agreements between the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Police Association related strictly to “Job Security Only”.

Edmonton in the Fifties

Population continues to grow and with it the Edmonton Police Force.

1950 - 1970

In 1953, the Alberta Government passed a new “Police Act” which included new Collective Bargaining processes. The Collective Bargaining process of the Police Act denied the right for Police Officers to use anyone other than current serving Police Officers in contract negotiations prior to arbitration. The Edmonton Police Association was unable to use anyone but Police Officers during contract negotiations. Negotiators could not be utilized, and it was necessary for Police Officers to gain these skills, in whatever way that was deemed necessary, to provide adequate negotiations. Occasional prompting from skilled lawyers became necessary in order that Police Officers could effectively negotiate labour contracts.

From 1953 to 1966, two Police Officers, specifically George Mitchell and Stan Stevens were elected as President’s of the Edmonton Police Association. They became strong leaders in contract negotiations.

In 1969, the Alberta Government instituted the “Firefighters and Policeman’s Labour Relations Act”. The purpose of this Act was to provide collective bargaining provisions for Firefighters and Police Officers. This Act provided the Edmonton Police Association the liberty to hire negotiators to conduct contract negotiations.

Norm Koch

In 1967, Norm Koch, a serving member of the Edmonton Police Department became the president of the Edmonton Police Association. Except for one year, Norm Koch remained the president of the Edmonton Police Association until 1983. Upon his retirement in 1983 from the Edmonton Police Service, Norm Koch was hired as the first full time Business Manager of the Edmonton Police Association. Norm remained the Business Manager of the Association until his full time retirement in 1998.

In 2005, the Edmonton Police Association made the decision to incorporate the President’s position as a full time position dedicated solely to Association business. Up to this point in time, all Presidents served part time along with their full time duties as sworn members of the Edmonton Police Service.

Koch Norm052

Norm Koch

Edmonton Police Car 1976.

A 1976 Dodge Coronet. One of the original police cruisers of the time is today put on display on various occasions.

1970 - 1980

It is relevant and important to note that long serving President and Business Manager, Norm Koch was known as a strong-willed and very influential individual who worked incessantly for the betterment of all Edmonton Police Officers, as well as other Police Officers in Western Canada. Norm organized and formulated the Western Canada Police Association by bringing all the other major Western Police Associations together as one common group.  Of interest, The Western Canada Police Association, of which Norm was the President, eventually became the Canadian Police Association which is still in existence today.

During Norm’s tenure, Police Officers made substantial monetary strides during contract negotiations. Edmonton Police officers were always recognized as leaders in the contractual field. Norm’s skills were honed by the necessity to perform contract negotiations pursuant to the requirements of the Police Act passed in 1953.

As indicated earlier, Bylaw 43 was enacted to provide a Volunteer Pension Plan for Police Officers. With minor adjustments, the City Bylaw Pension Plan remained in effect until 1971. The downfall to this Bylaw Pension Plan was that Police Officers were required to work until they were Sixty-Five (65) years of age. City of Edmonton employees were introduced to a Provincial Government Pension Plan called “The Local Authorities Pension Plan.” The City of Edmonton attempted to enroll all city employees into this pension plan, however, the Executive from the Police Association refused to participate. The Executive of the Edmonton Police Association was looking for a provision whereby Police Officers could retire with full formula pension at 30 years or less of service.

In 1971, Norm Koch and the Edmonton Police Association Executive were able to negotiate early retirement provisions to the Bylaw Pension Plan in conjunction with the Local Authorities Pension Plan. Edmonton Police Officers remained in the Local Authorities Pension Plan until 1979. At this time, Edmonton and Calgary negotiated with the Province of Alberta, a Provincial Police Pension Plan.

Special Forces Pension Plan and Structure Changes

In 1979, Police Officers were incorporated into the Alberta Government’s “Special Forces Pension Plan” which remains in effect to this date. Again, the Edmonton Police Association’s Executive was able to negotiate provisions for Police Officers to retire after serving twenty-five (25) years with the Police Service. The benefits enjoyed today by serving members and retired members are a result of rigorous and at times tumultuous negotiations between the Edmonton Police Association, the City of Edmonton and the Alberta Government.

Until 1983, the Edmonton Police Association Executive specifically identified the Secretary and Treasurer as two separate executive functions. In 1983, amendments were made to the Edmonton Police Association’s Constitution whereby both of these functions were incorporated into one position known as the “Secretary Treasurer”. This change identified the Executive Officers as the President, Vice President and the Secretary Treasurer.  Then, once again in 2010, the Secretary and Treasurer positions were split into separate portfolios with both holding “Officer” status along with the President and Vice-President of the Association.

In 2016, the members of the Edmonton Police Association ratified the conversion of the Vice-President’s position from one that was part time, to a full time position seconded from the EPS, consistent with most of the other major Police Associations in Canada of similar size and membership.

Edmonton Police Force Today

For a ever growing city like Edmonton, there are around 1800 Police Officers today, dedicated to protect and proud to serve.

THE EDMONTON POLICEMAN'S BENEVOLENT FUND

On the 04 May 1920, J. WATSON gave notice that at the next regular meeting of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association, he would move that a “Benefit Fund” be formed in connection with the Association and that in the event of the death of a member, a days pay be deducted from all members of the Association to help pay for the funeral expenses. On the 03 June 1920, that notice of motion was moved and seconded with respect to deducting a percentage from the pay of all members of the Association, which would be used to cover funeral expenses.

This was the beginning of another facet of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association, which became known as “The City of Edmonton Police Benevolent Fund which provided financial assistance for Police Officers and their families as well as community agencies within the City of Edmonton. The “City of Edmonton Police Benevolent Fund” evolved to what can be considered the present “Charity Fund” and “The Benevolent (Welfare) Fund” components of the Edmonton Police Association.

The policeman’s benevolent fund was established to provide financial assistance for police officers and their families.

Money for police officers and their families in dire circumstances

Monies utilized by the Benevolent Fund were strictly derived from the dues collected from the members of the Edmonton Policeman’s Association. Canada’s economy was in disarray due to the previous World War and the labour problems of that time. Police Officers were paid meager wages and in many cases, the dues, which were paid voluntarily, could not be collected from the members of the Association. On 05 Dec. 1922, Chief Constable A.G. SHUTE forwarded a letter to His Worship Mayor DUGGAN, who by virtue of the position was also the Police Commissioner for the City of Edmonton. The following is a transcript of the letter of that date.

Sir:

As you are undoubtedly aware, a certain amount of lost and stolen property accumulates in this Department which is never reported lost or stolen, and for which no owners can be found.

After six months has elapsed, persons who handed any of this Property in can lay claim to same, and it is handed over to them and a receipt taken for it. If, however, this property is recovered by any members of this Force, instead of being handed to the person finding it, it is sold by public action, and the proceeds paid to the City.

I have received a communication from the Police Association in regard to this matter, and am enclosing a copy of same herewith. In this request that the proceeds of such sales be paid to the Police Benevolent Fund, and in view of the fact that no grant of any kind is made by either the City or the Province towards this fund, I would recommend that the proceeds of such sales be handed over to the Police Benevolent Fund.

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your obedient Servant

(Sgd) A.G. Shute
Chief Constable

The response from Mayor Duggan was to the affirmative and funds from these sales were forwarded to the Police Benevolent Fund. In later years, the Police Benevolent Fund became the Athletic Committee (presently known as the Charity and Welfare Committee) and funds from the City of Edmonton auction sales continued to be channeled for Charity and Welfare purposes to the Police Benevolent Fund as well as to other community agencies. The practise of transferring funds from police auctions for charity and welfare purposes ceased in the early 1960’s.

The Charity and Welfare Committee

During the Second World War, the City of Edmonton established the “Edmonton Welfare Chest Fund.” This fund was established as a welfare fund to assist city workers as well as other city residents during troubled times. All city employees including Police Officers were required to direct a portion of their pay to the City of Edmonton, which would be used for charity and welfare purposes only.

The “Edmonton Welfare Chest Fund” continued to exist well into the 1960’s; however, the name of the fund was changed to the “City of Edmonton Charity and Welfare Fund.” A committee consisting of City of Edmonton employees administered the funds. Monies from this fund were distributed to several of the City’s Service Organizations.

In approx. 1970, the Executive and General Membership of the Edmonton Police Association became disenchanted with the manner in which one fund recipient; the “Edmonton Social Planning Council” was utilizing funds that were received from the “City of Edmonton Charity and Welfare Committee”. The Edmonton Police Association Executive applied relentless pressure on the “City of Edmonton Charity and Welfare Committee” to cease funding the “Edmonton Social Planning Council.” The result was that the City of Edmonton released the Edmonton Police Association from participating in the “City of Edmonton Charity and Welfare Fund”. The Edmonton Police Association formed its own “Charity and Welfare Committee” which today functions as an entity within the Edmonton Police Association.

Presently, the Executive Officers and Executive Board of the Edmonton Police Association have established funds that are used exclusively by the Charity and Benevolent (Welfare) Committees to provide assistance, for extraordinary circumstances, to serving members, family members of serving members, recognized Edmonton Police Service committees, group or organizations, as well as Community members, committees, groups, or organizations who are seeking and can justify a need for financial assistance.

Edmonton Police Association

Protecting those who protect the public.

IN A NUTSHELL

Initially, the Edmonton Policeman’s Association and the Edmonton Policeman’s Benevolent Fund were established for two specific purposes. The purposes were:

  • to provide Police Officers a voice during collective bargaining
  • an avenue whereby Police Officers could obtain financial assistance during troubled times
The Edmonton Police Association presently fulfills those same roles as well as many other roles. Since its inception, the Edmonton Police Association has become a strong voice for serving and retired members. During the past and present years, Police Officers who have served and still serve as Executive Officers with the Edmonton Police Association have earned the respect and gratitude of its members.

Acknowledgements

EPA Historical Information:
All information with respect to the history of the Edmonton Police Association was derived from archived historical information, which was made available by Karen McDowell from the Edmonton Police Service’s Museum. Supplementary historical information was obtained from the book “E.P.S. – The First 100 Years” written by the late Alex Mair and from the City of Edmonton Archives.

Stanley Stevens:
Stanley Stevens served in various roles with the Edmonton Police Association from the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s. Stanley Stevens, along with Norm Koch were instrumental in establishing the AFPA, WCPA and the CPA. Special recognition is also extended to Stan Stevens, who served as resource persons by providing personal information and insight into the intricacies of the Edmonton Police Association.

Norm Koch:
Norm Koch served in various roles with the Edmonton Police Association from 1961 to 1998 including the Presidency and Business Manager after retirement from the EPS. Norm was instrumental in the Association making great monetary strides during the 1970’s. Additionally, Norm was one of the founding members of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations (AFPA), the Western Canada Police Association (WCPA) and the Canadian Police Association (CPA).
Special thanks are extended to Norm who willingly provided copious amounts of time and information with respect to the formation and history of the Edmonton Police Association. Norm continued to assist with the manual’s development by offering to edit and proof read the manual. He continued his service to the Edmonton Police Association until his death on the 28 September, 2003.