Lethbridge Police presenting a report to City Council this week on efforts to curb crime around the community, specifically in the downtown core.
Since getting up and running, the LPS downtown enforcement project has resulted in more than 80 criminal charges, several dozen arrest warrants, and thousands of dollars in seized property.
Sergeant Robin Klassen with the Downtown Policing Unit says the public can play a big role in helping cut down on criminal activity. “Tips are always important. You can call the complaints line at 403-328-4444 and provide your information there. Crimestoppers is always important if you want to stay anonymous. When you call the complaints line we want to be able to get a hold of you and get information from you.”
Residents can also call Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods or SCAN, which is a unit of Alberta Sheriffs, if they have specific information related to illegal activity.
A group of frustrated residents showed up to Monday’s meeting to voice their frustrations with a suspected drug house in their neighbourhood. The home in question is on 7th Avenue North and was shut down by SCAN last year.
Ed Lafournie lives near the home and says he’s had just about enough. “If seen it one time when they (police) raided that house and there’s been nothing done since. The police come, they arrest them, and within hours or the next day they’re back out there. We can phone and phone and like they (police) said, the courts let them out.”
Sgt. Klassen says it is as frustration police deal with. “We do arrest people. Sometimes they do get released before their court date and are out back in the public and able to commit crimes. Our hands are tide until the court process is done.”
Acting LPS Inspector Pete Christos told Council police do monitor suspected drug houses, however he stresses shutting these places down takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. “We ask the public to be patient and assure them we are out looking at each complaint they have. We might get small pieces of evidence from the onset, but we want to build a solid case. That lends more credibility to what we’re seeking in terms of a search warrant.”
Mayor Chris Spearman meanwhile says the results presented by the LPS to Council on Monday show real progress is being made in combating the social issues the city is facing, however this still more to be done.
Sgt. Klassen did say she was hopeful that someday Lethbridge would have other resources like drug detox and recovery to help deal with some of the ongoing issues.
A few weeks ago the UCP government announced it was putting a planned $11.2 million dollar facility for Lethbridge on hold, pending a review.