Friday, December 1, 2023

New officers set to expand Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods unit

A new law enforcement team has been implemented in southern Alberta to help combat crime.

The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit will be in Lethbridge and will have six Alberta Sheriffs working with Lethbridge Police to investigate illegal activity at properties in the region.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services, Mike Ellis, was on hand for the announcement on Nov. 15, and says this new unit will use legal sanctions and court orders to tap into crime in the area by holding owners accountable for any illegal activity happening on their property.

“We are taking action on providing law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools to combat criminal activity. This includes all means at our disposal to fight crime, which is why the safer communities and neighbourhoods unit of the Alberta Sheriffs is such a valuable asset,” says Ellis.

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The Alberta Sheriffs will be working closely with local law enforcement including Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Taber Police along with communities policed by RCMP, to shut down properties that are being used for illegal activities including dealing drugs.

Deputy Chief of Alberta Sheriffs, Greg Medley, says that taking legal action against a person’s property and imposing conditions requires sufficient evidence, which can take time. Adding the SCAN unit can help strengthen partnerships with the public.

“Citizens are our eyes and ears, the starting point for SCAN investigators is generally a complaint from a member of the public,” says Medley.

Between 2019 and September 2023, SCAN investigators from Calgary responded to around 363 properties in Lethbridge, around 20 per cent of their caseload.

According to Ellis, the new regional team will cover Vulcan, Crowsnest Pass, the US Border and the regional boundary with Saskatchewan with funding set aside in the 2023 budget as public safety was a big issue.

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Mayor Blaine Hyggen says that SCAN empowers residents to make their community a safer place to live in.

“When I ran for mayor, I, and many others, said community safety was our number one priority. This announcement is a gigantic step forward to follow up on that,” says Hyggen.

Deputy Chief for LPS, Gerald Grobmeier says he’s looking forward to working together with SCAN to ensure neighbourhoods and the community is safe.

“The sanctions and court orders used by SCAN to directly hold property owners accountable stop illegal activity, remove criminals and prevent new ones from moving in is critical to community safety and security,” says Grobmeier.

The SCAN unit was first introduced in 2008 in Alberta and has investigated more than 8,000 complaints across the province.

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