Special police unit to crackdown on organized crime

A specialized police team in Red Deer will be tackling organized and serious crimes by Christmas as part of a collaborative province-wide effort.

A specialized police team in Red Deer will be tackling organized and serious crimes by Christmas as part of a collaborative province-wide effort.

Red Deer is one of the five new cities across the province (Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge) currently developing an integrated Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit as part of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT). Edmonton and Calgary have well-established ALERT units.

The Red Deer team will be comprised of about 20 various crime fighting experts that will work together with the other teams on gang activity, drug related crimes and other serious crimes in the province.

“Organized crime groups tend to work in multiple jurisdictions around the province,” said Ted Miles, ALERT chief executive officer. “The concept of this is to have teams focused on this and work collaboratively to target organized crime in the multiple jurisdictions.”

The unit will operate out of the city’s downtown RCMP detachment. Last month, city council agreed to fund half the cost, up to $150,000 from municipal reserves and the detachment building’s surplus towards renovating the undeveloped space in the building.

The city will also provide six municipal RCMP officers –– three members working already at the detachment and three new members would be funded over the next several years. Each officer costs about $130,000 to $140,000 annually. The province will fund nine positions and there is the hope the federal officers would come on stream.

“As it develops in Red Deer, we will look at what our needs are there,” said Miles, noting the unit should be active by Christmas the latest. “If we can’t those needs met from one of our existing partner agencies, we may go to the open workforce to try to cherry pick the experts we need.”

Miles said in the past if an organized crime group was active in both Edmonton and Fort McMurray, they would have two separate agencies with special teams trying to work the case. He said the new concept will provide a more coordinated approach to tackling organized crime in multiple jurisdictions across the province.

Since 2006, ALERT has arrested more than 2,500 individuals on 6,500 charges related to drugs, weapons and violent crimes.

Following a massive criminal investigation into organized crime and drug distribution that resulted in 16 people facing 24 drug-related charges, Red Deer City RCMP Supt. Warren Dosko said at a press conference there are as many as nine organized crime groups operating in the city.

“Organized crime in Red Deer has been growing,” said Dosko at the press conference. “We know that Red Deer’s location plays a key role, being centrally located between Calgary and Edmonton.”

He also alleged organized crime was responsible for serious offences in Red Deer including the July 4 shooting between two groups in the downtown that resulted in a 29-year-old man being shot in the torso, and a retaliation kidnapping and beating of a 44-year-old male after a similar kidnapping of a 16-year-old male.