Police urge public to report suspected drug, gang activity

Provincial investigators could shut down far more crack and gang houses if more people would report the crimes taking place in their neighbourhood, says a Red Deer police officer.

Barry Balerud

Provincial investigators could shut down far more crack and gang houses if more people would report the crimes taking place in their neighbourhood, says a Red Deer police officer.

During its annual general meeting on Tuesday, members of the Red Deer Neighbourhood watch learned about a new program, administered by the Alberta Sheriffs, that can shut down homes or businesses that have become a base for crimes, including gang hangouts, drug supply depots and party houses.

Up and running since April, Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) has received complaints about five different properties in Red Deer and currently has two under investigation, said Barry Balerud, manager of the Calgary-based SCAN team. Balerud’s team covers the province from Red Deer south, while another team, based in Edmonton, covers regions north of Red Deer.

Cpl. Kathe DeHeer, media liaison officer for the Red Deer City RCMP, told the meeting of about 25 people that Balerud’s investigators would get a lot more action in Red Deer if more people would pick up the phone and report vandalism, vehicle break-ins and other crimes commonly associated with having a drug house in the neighbourhood.

Some people fear retaliation while others don’t believe their complaints make a difference, said DeHeer.

In fact, retaliation against people who report crimes in their neighbourhood is extremely rare, while leaving those crimes unreported allows the situation to get progressively worse, she said. “You have to stand up to crime in your community,” said DeHeer.

“Crime prevention is a partnership. It’s not just the police in your neighbourhood. It’s not just the SCAN folks in your neighbourhood. Everybody has to take a role and they have to quit fearing what is going to happen.

“The advantages of standing up far outweigh any small fear of retribution because, for the most part, retribution doesn’t happen.”

DeHeer advised that people having problems make their first call to police and follow that up with a call to SCAN.

Balerud said confidentiality is a key element in the SCAN program, which targets the properties where crimes take place rather than the perpetrators themselves.

A former member of the Calgary Police Service with years of experience in gangs and organized crime, he echoed Deheer’s comments, stating that SCAN investigators and local police work closely together.

“We need people to report stuff to us if we’re going to do something about it,” he said.

Balerud expects the SCAN program, already established in some other provinces, will build on its own successes.

While the goal is to shut down the places where illegal activities are taking place, SCAN has an added benefit for property owners who unwittingly become involved as landlords to drug dealers, hookers and gang members.

Because SCAN operates under civil law, which does not have as heavy a burden of proof as criminal law, people can be removed for 90 days from a house very quickly once an investigation has confirmed that it has become a centre for criminal activities, he said.

“If it continues after 90 days, we come back and we do it again,” he said.

People who have complaints about sites where criminal activities endanger their safety or limit their enjoyment of their own property are invited to visit www.scan.alberta.ca or call 1-866-960-7226 (SCAN).


Just Posted

Red Deer area businesses recognized at Business of the Year Awards night

“It’s an honour just to be nominated.” The popular words echoed throughout… Continue reading

Child sex offender should get 12 years: Crown prosecutor

Stuart Peter Hunt has pleaded guilty to 10 child sexual exploitation and pornography charges

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Red Deer-area dads going through divorce are invited to Man Up

Support group formed to focus on positive activities, networking

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

Most Read