Calgary

Calgary police launch team to combat bar violence

Following a spate of shootings, police have launched a team of officers whose main job will be to prevent violence at Calgary bars.

Following a spate of shootings, police have launched a team of officers whose main job will be to prevent violence at Calgary bars.

The new violent crime suppression team will be based downtown, but will be able to respond to incidents such as violent attacks and assaults at bars throughout the city, police announced Thursday.

"It's going to be a highly visible gang suppression team," said Supt. Trevor Daroux . "It will respond to any areas of concern within licensed establishments. Where there are organized crime members – gang members – who frequent various locations, this team will have a presence there."

The team, which includes 10 full-time, uniformed officers, replaces Operation Watchman. That program had officers working on overtime and was an "interim" solution to escalating bar violence, said Daroux.

Staff Sgt. Nina Vaughn said police officers won't be acting as bouncers, but they will be asking problem patrons to leave.

"Typically the bars contact us through a variety of means and let us know they have someone of concern," she said. "We deal with it for them, so they aren't subject to any retribution or retaliation, which is a concern for some of the bar staff."

Their presence will also likely deter some rowdiness and fights, she said.

A series of shootings at bars has made headlines in the last few weeks.

On Oct. 17, a gunman opened fire inside the Mirage Bar & Grill downtown, injuring five people, because he had been bumped by another man, police believe.

A day earlier, a man was shot in the leg after leaving the Booty Lounge on 17th Avenue S.E.

In September, a man fired three shots through the front door of Morgan's Pub on 17th Avenue, but no one was hurt. Police believe the culprit had been drinking, got into some sort of disagreement and left, later returning with a handgun and opening fire.

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