Calgary police are considering publicly releasing the names and photos of members of organized crime groups if they pose a threat to the safety of the public.

"This will only happen in a special circumstance, a circumstance where a gang member poses a specific risk," Calgary police Deputy Chief Murray Stooke said at a news conference on Thursday.

A gang war has erupted into shootings on Calgary streets, with one man seriously wounded on Monday afternoon and another shot to death as he was driving his SUV on July 5. The two victims were friends and belonged to the same gang, said police.

'It may force them to stay in it further, because now they are identified, they need the protection. They need to stay involved.' — Gordon Sand, Calgary John Howard Society

"We have to perform a threat assessment in every case. If they meet the threshold of substantial and imminent risk to a member of the public, then we can release [the information]," said Stooke.

In addition to a threat assessment, investigators will have to contact the gang member before any information is publicized to give him or her a chance to voluntarily speak to police, the deputy chief said.

"Gangs operate better under a cloak of darkness and anonymity," said police Chief Rick Hanson. "So I think it's a risk to them of being exposed."


Calgary police said a 20-year-old man known to the force's gang unit was shot four times as he got into a minivan on Monday afternoon. ((CBC))

Gordon Sand, executive director of the Calgary John Howard Society, believes naming gang members is a bad idea because it will make it more difficult for them to leave organized crime.

"It may force them to stay in it further, because now they are identified, they need the protection. They need to stay involved. You can't just jump in and out," he told CBC News.

"They could make a stigma to them for the rest of their lives."

Under section 32 of Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, police are allowed to name people if there's a risk of significant harm to the public, or it's clearly in the public interest, said Wayne Wood from the Information & Privacy Commission.

Police have used the law in the past to name convicted criminals, including sex offenders.

Calgary police estimate there are currently 12 gangs with about 400 members operating in the city. Investigators say they've arrested 100 gang members in the last six months.

Police also renewed calls for laws that give them the power to seize vehicles if firearms are found inside that aren't registered to the driver or passengers.

With files from Peter Akman