Edmonton, Alberta – New units are being formed under ALERT as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling the gang and illegal firearm violence affecting communities across Alberta.
Gang activity has been steadily rising in the province, with 126 shootings in Calgary in 2022 – an increase of 30 per cent over the previous year. Budget 2023 will invest $4.4 million to combat this violence by creating a Gang Suppression Unit and a Firearms Investigative Unit under Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).
“We are putting gangs on notice: illegal gun violence and crime will not be tolerated. Calgarians deserve to feel safe in their own community, and we also know that these criminals will stretch this kind of violence beyond those municipal borders. This approach brings together the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources to combat organized and serious crime. We’re taking action and putting the resources in place to tackle these issues.” Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services
The Gang Suppression Unit will work to identify and suppress gang and illegal firearm violence, support work being done by the Firearms Investigative Unit, and proactively identify individuals at risk of being victims or perpetrators of gun violence.
Both units will work with the Calgary Police Service, RCMP, Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta and the firearms lab, providing a comprehensive approach to disrupt and dismantle organized crime, provide intelligence resources throughout the province, and address illegal firearms use. These teams will support the ongoing efforts of ALERT to address gang violence affecting urban and rural municipalities across Alberta.
“The strength of ALERT is its integrated policing model. This funding announcement bolsters our ability to work in tandem with our policing partners to investigate and prevent gang and firearms-related violence in Calgary and the surrounding area. ALERT has a long-standing history of success, and these new dedicated enforcement teams will provide a mix of covert and overt resources towards ensuring a fulsome and complete approach to making our community safe.” Supt. Marc Cochlin, chief executive officer, ALERT
“Over the past several years, gun violence has been a top priority for our service, and we welcome this collaborative approach. With this funding, we can continue to work with our partners to ensure we are targeting all aspects of gun violence, including the presence of unlawful firearms, organized crime and offender management. Together, we can increase our efforts on the identification, prioritization, investigation and enforcement of those bringing violence into our communities.” Mark Neufeld, chief constable, Calgary Police Service
“Our police officers, grassroots organizations and Calgarians know the daily toll gun violence and gang activity have on our communities. These proactive initiatives are an important part of a much larger challenge to address the root cause of violence in society. Together with the provincial government, we’ll continue to work in partnership to create safe and empowered communities.” Jyoti Gondek, mayor, City of Calgary
“These new units within ALERT will enhance our collective efforts to address gang and gun violence in Calgary and in rural Alberta, and their focus will be essential not only for effective law enforcement but also for crime prevention. Violence knows no boundaries, and organized crime and unlawful use of firearms affects communities throughout Alberta. Collaborating with the Calgary Police Service and other law enforcement agencies to confront these challenges head on will help us continue to protect the safety and well-being of Albertans.” Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer, Alberta RCMP
ALERT, established in 2006, is the umbrella organization of integrated, provincewide response to serious and organized criminal activity that crosses local and regional boundaries. It oversees provincewide initiatives directed at criminal activities, including organized crime, child exploitation, drug operations, human trafficking, fugitive apprehension and domestic violence.
Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe, and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.
Since 2006: ALERT has arrested more than 11,500 individuals, laid more than 35,000 charges, seized more than 1,700 illegal firearms and about $970 million in drugs.
Over the past several years, there has been a steady increase in violent crime in both rural and urban Alberta.
In 2022, there were 126 shootings in Calgary, an increase of 30 per cent over the previous year.
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