Alberta announces $4M in police funding to address gangs, gun violence
Minister says funds will create gang suppression, firearms unit
Alberta police teams will receive more than $4 million in funding to tackle gun violence and gang activity as part of this year's provincial budget.
New crime prevention units are being formed as part of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), an umbrella agency uniting efforts by multiple Canadian law enforcement organizations.
The province announced the creation of a gang suppression unit and a firearms investigative unit, which will receive $4.4 million dollars in this year's provincial budget as part of ALERT.
Mike Ellis, Alberta's minister of public safety and emergency services, said there were 126 shootings last year in Calgary and a rise in fentanyl trafficking.
"Gun violence goes hand in hand with organized crime and gang activity. There is always a danger to innocent bystanders when our public spaces are disrupted by violence," Ellis said.
"We all know the terrible cost of gun violence all too well."
Teams deployed in Calgary will work with the Calgary Police Service and RCMP firearms labs, Ellis said.
Calgary Police Service acting deputy chief Cory Dayley said offenders of all crime types are now carrying firearms, and said that hundreds of guns were seized last year.
"As quickly as our offenders and organized criminals here in Calgary and across the country in North America move to acquire handguns in the many different ways that they do, we need to respond."
ALERT inspector Jason Bobrowich said that police forces will be able to share criminal intelligence on gun crimes, gang violence, and firearms forensics.
Ellis added that the province is looking at bail reform — and will be travelling to Ottawa along with Justice Minister Tyler Shandro Friday to discuss what can be done with the national government.
"We cannot continue to receive violent and dangerous offenders arrested in the morning, and then released later on in the afternoon," he said.
"These offenders are well known to law enforcement and many are out on release when they commit these crimes."
The announcement comes a day after the Alberta government introduced legislation aimed at bulking up its ongoing firearms feud with the federal government.
Shandro says Bill 8, the Alberta Firearms Act, defines the role of the province's chief firearms officer, but it also allows him to enact regulations regarding how the proposed federal legislation is administered in Alberta.
With files from The Canadian Press, Michelle Bellefontaine
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