When Dale McFee is formally sworn in as Edmonton’s new police chief Friday, the city will start getting to know a man who comes with a reputation for “respectfully disrupting the status quo.”McFee, named to the post in November, takes over from former top cop Rod Knecht to become the city’s 23rd chief. Postmedia spoke with some of his former colleagues to learn more about the person taking on one of the toughest jobs in the city and to get a hint as to how he will lead the Edmonton Police Service — an organization with a staff of more than 2,700 employees and an annual net operating budget of $356.3 million.“He’s a big picture thinker who sees the art of the possible,” said Rob Currie, Saskatchewan’s deputy minister of education.Currie has known McFee for about seven years since they first crossed paths while Currie was director of education for the Regina Catholic School System. McFee’s most recent post was as deputy minister for policing and corrections in Saskatchewan, where he and Currie worked together on several initiatives.Currie said McFee was passionate, engaged and instrumental in the concept of the Hub — a model for community safety, which aims to provide proactive and integrated response to at-risk, marginalized, and vulnerable populations. The idea is that by understanding various risk factors, community safety and well-being can be improved.“(McFee) encourages people to collaborate to work together to break down silos so that the benefactors — individuals and families in the community — would be able to be successful, contributing people within society and individually grow,” said Currie. ‘He’s quite passionate‘Several years ago, when McFee was presenting the Hub model to school divisions and senior administrators, he noted there were areas that weren’t working and he expected everyone to put their heads together to solve the challenges.“He’s quite passionate about his philosophy and expectations of people working together,” Currie said.“I like that kind of approach where he was respectfully disrupting the status quo and creating the environment where we have to do something for change.”Another area where the 53-year-old McFee, a Metis man originally from St. Albert, is well regarded is in his past commitment to diversity within the police and justice system.According to a memo released when McFee was named chief last fall, during his tenure with the Prince Albert Police Service, it “became one of the most culturally represented police organizations in Canada,” achieving a workforce that was 38-per cent Indigenous.Mark Arcand, tribal chief of the Saskatoon Tribal Council, worked with McFee to create programming for inmates, including everything from education to job creation and mental wellness, and cultural diversity training for correctional officers.“I brought it forward to Dale and asked him to look at changing the system of the current status quo,” said Arcand.“Dale was really supportive in regards to making that transition to do something different to see changes within the correctional system so people wouldn’t go back in; they had something to look forward to.”
Dale McFee will be sworn in on Friday to become the city’s 23rd chief of police for the Edmonton Police Service, at City Hall in Edmonton, January 30, 2019.
Ed Kaiser /
Arcand said McFee let them challenge the government McFee worked for to create change and demonstrate how things could be better, especially for Indigenous people.“He approached his work with his heart. He was very passionate about everything that he’s done,” said Arcand.“He led by example. He believes that change has to happen because the current systems aren’t working.”To Arcand, McFee is someone who is inclusive and doesn’t care who sits across the table from him.“He showed facts, he showed data, he showed reasoning and he showed passion to say we really have to do things differently,” said Arcand.“Meeting Dale and the qualities he has as a person was outstanding. I would take him to battle with me any time.” Arcand is also encouraging First Nations communities in Edmonton to work with McFee or if they just need somebody to talk to.“He’s there for people, he wants to build those relationships, he wants to build those partnerships and his door is always open to really help people and make change.”Challenging conventional thinkingCal Corley began working with McFee in 2009 when McFee was president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and Corley was an assistant commissioner at the Canadian Police College.The pair were delving into how well equipped police leaders were in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008.
Incoming Edmonton police chief Dale McFee poses for a photo in front of portraits of past police chiefs on display at Edmonton Police Service headquarters in Edmonton. McFee will be sworn in Feb.1 to become the city’s 23rd chief of police.
Ed Kaiser /
Corley recalls McFee as authentic, someone who brings to the table his unique perspective as an entrepreneur, former police chief and senior bureaucrat with the Saskatchewan government.“The perspectives that he’s able to bring to Edmonton in his new role are unparalleled in policing in Canada,” Corley said. “He continues to challenge conventional thinking on issues but at the same time there is a humility and the ability to correct course and to make adjustments along the way as well. He is very much open to listening to other ideas. There’s lots of room in the sandbox for people to engage constructively in pursuit of improvements within the policing and community safety system.” He believes having McFee at the helm of city police bodes well for Edmonton, something Currie agrees with.“I believe as police chief he will pour his heart and soul into serving the citizens of Edmonton,” said Currie. “They have an individual who is committed to serving the needs of individuals and reviewing structures and systems so that they will in effect continue or if they need changing they will be changed.”firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter.com/JunkerAnna