City council made the announcement Friday afternoon during a press conference. Knecht will be taking over the role held by Acting Chief David Korol, who's held the position for the last three months after former Police Chief Mike Boyd stepped down in December last year.
Boyd announced his retirement last September, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife Margo, and his ailing parents in Eastern Canada.
Knecht, who was born in Red Deer, was in charge of criminal operations here in Alberta when James Roszko shot four Mounties outside Mayerthorpe in 2005. He eventually moved out to Ottawa when he was named the SDC. He returned to Alberta earlier this year as a witness at the Mayerthorpe Fatality Inquiry in February.
Knecht will start his new role with the Edmonton Police Service June 1, 2011.
Rod Knecht, RCMP Senior Deputy Commissioner, was announced as Edmonton's new police chief Friday after city council unanimously ratified a five-year contract.
"I am truly grateful," said Knecht. "I see a tremendous opportunity to be a part of making Edmonton the most safe and vibrant city in Canada."
Knecht will retire from his Ottawa post and return to Edmonton June 1, 2011. The Red Deer native lived in Edmonton for seven years as head of RCMP operations in northern Alberta and says his family considers the city their home.
He became aware of the position in early February when he was contacted by corporate headhunters.
"I have 34 years with the RCMP. I was nearing retirement and this opportunity came up and I seized upon it," Knecht said. "A lot of it had to do with the right place at the right time."
Knecht was chosen for his senior leadership qualifications, international policing experience and commitment to community-focused policing, the Edmonton Police Commission said.
He won the position from a pool of 100 referrals and 22 formal applications.
"We've seen incredible progress in the Edmonton Police Service over the past five years and I expect this will continue under Rod's leadership," said Mayor Stephen Mandel.
Crime in the city has dropped by 38 per cent in five years, while public trust in the Edmonton Police Service continues to climb, something Knecht said he hopes to build on.
Edmonton Police Association president Tony Simioni said Knecht will face some challenges when he joins the force, including a high number of junior officers.
"He does have a lot of credibility with respect to his operational experience," Simioni said. "And he comes highly recommended and highly spoken of, so we're hoping for big things."
Knecht will take over from Mike Boyd who stepped down as chief for family reasons in December 2010.
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