The Alberta government will be spending $8.3 million to enable the recruitment, training and deployment of 50 new Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers. “They will be strategically stationed in high crime areas such as the downtown core, transit corridors and other problem areas,” said Alberta Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis at a Tuesday press conference. “We know officer presence matters and having uniformed officers in these areas will help deter criminal activity and provide Edmontonians with a sense of safety and security as they go about their lives.” With these 50 officers, Ellis said they will receive permanent funding from the Alberta government and will be out on the streets as soon as possible. He added the funding will cover the officers’ salaries and benefits and equipment needs such as vehicles, uniforms, radios and body cameras. While Edmonton is dealing with crime, Ellis said Edmontonians have the right to walk through the city streets or take public transit without fear. He called out violent criminals, saying they are not welcome in Edmonton. The Alberta government has committed to a safer, more secure Edmonton for everyone. With this announcement, it will strengthen the capabilities of law enforcement partners to stand against the dangers threatening public safety. Since it cannot arrest its way out of every problem, he acknowledged enforcement is one part of the strategy of fighting crime, addiction, mental illness and homelessness. That means it will continue to spend money on addictions and mental health services and supports. Gangs who prey on vulnerable people say they are untouchable, but the Alberta government will work to ensure they end up behind bars. Ellis concluded by thanking EPS for its work in keeping Edmonton safe every day. By working together, he said they “are going to take back our streets from violent criminals one way or another.” EPS Chief Dale McFee said this announcement is the next step in tackling Edmonton’s high crime areas and reckless criminal behaviour. “Months ago, Minister Ellis committed in helping us hire 50 more officers, and I am pleased to stand beside him today as he reaffirms that commitment to safety,” said McFee. “To say these resources are greatly needed is an understatement.” In the past year, McFee said EPS has watched violent incidents increase at an alarming rate. He said these incidents have to be addressed. Edmonton Coun. Sarah Hamilton said Edmontonians “have been loud and clear that safe public spaces are a priority.” “While there is a general trend downward on violent crime, nonetheless perceptions of safety remain the biggest barrier to getting people back into the core and back onto transit, which amongst other things is important for Edmonton’s ongoing economic recovery,” said Hamilton. “This will help give certainty to Edmontonians not just in the core, but across the city, as staffing levels can be stabilized.” Since the funding has been accelerated, Hamilton said police can get on the ground quicker, into the city, and work towards improving public safety. She thanked the Alberta government for prioritizing the safety and well-being of Edmontonians. Ellis followed up by saying officer presence matters because it makes a difference. “It makes a difference in a sense that if I’m a bad person and see that police officer walking the beat, am I less likely to commit a crime?” he said. “The answer is yes.” This is why he has been vocal about officer presence since he has been public safety and emergency services minister. He said people deserve to feel safe. The Alberta Sheriffs were deployed into downtown Edmonton in February to try and get a handle on a growing surge of crime and social disorder.READ MORE: UCP deploys sheriffs to downtown Edmonton to try and stop public disorderA 15-week pilot partnership between the Alberta Sheriffs and EPS began in late February.More boots on the ground allowed EPS to increase the number of patrols and expanded their reach to more high-priority neighbourhoods. The Alberta government said the pilot program will help keep communities safe by deterring criminal activity and building public trust with officers.