Province funds programs to battle organized crime
RCMP commissioner says 'organized crime is all around us'
The New Brunswick government will keep the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods program and five intelligence units that target organized crime despite the loss of federal funding.
The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit and five criminal intelligence groups were started by the federal government a few years ago but those funds have run out.
Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors announced on Tuesday $2.28 million would be used to maintain the two programs.
Trevors made the announcement in Saint John where the local program has tackled the issue of gangs.
"I'm confident with your help we will continue to make New Brunswick a safer place to live, work and raise a family," he said.
The Safer Communities and Neighborhoods program allows investigators to evict people engaged in criminal activities, such as drug dealing and prostitution. Under the program, evictions can be ordered through civil litigation rather than lengthy criminal investigations.
Bill Hanley, the lead investigator with the program, said the unit has handled more than 700 complaints from communities across the province in the last three years.
"When you talk to them on the phone, they're at their wit’s end, they are thinking of selling their house or moving, afraid to let their kids out or their grandchildren," he said.
"They are just not comfortable at all and the neighbourhood has always been a good neighbourhood. But one property is all it takes to throw a neighbourhood into that turmoil."
‘Organized crime is all around us’
The five specialized units in the province are comprised of RCMP, border services agents and local police.
Wayne Lang, the commander of the New Brunswick RCMP, said criminal networks are more common than many people may think.
"I can tell you that organized crime is all around us, I don't want to be a fear monger, but people need to be sensitive that there are organized crime groups all over New Brunswick," he said.
The funding will help small communities, such as Woodstock.
The western town has the smallest police force in the province so they do not have the resources to take on complex investigations.
But the Woodstock police do have an officer attached to one of the intelligence units.
Dana Collicot, Woodstock’s police chief, said the program is paying off for his town.
"They all work in one room together, work on cases together, they have direct access to each others' databases and of course they have a direct line to the various federal agencies, so it allows us to have a much more coordinated approach," he said.