Calgary, AB – The province of Alberta has seen a steady rise in gang activity and violent crime in recent years. In 2022, Calgary alone experienced 126 shootings – a 30% increase from the previous year. To combat this, Budget 2023 has allocated $4.4 million towards creating a Gang Suppression Unit and a Firearms Investigative Unit under Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).
Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services, stated that the goal of the investment is to “put gangs on notice: illegal gun violence and crime will not be tolerated”. The Gang Suppression Unit will work to identify and suppress gang and illegal firearm violence, while the Firearms Investigative Unit will support their efforts and proactively identify individuals at risk of being victims or perpetrators of gun violence.
Both units will work in collaboration with the Calgary Police Service, RCMP, Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta, and the firearms lab to provide a comprehensive approach to disrupt and dismantle organized crime, provide intelligence resources throughout the province, and address illegal firearms use. ALERT will also continue their ongoing efforts to address gang violence affecting urban and rural municipalities across Alberta.
Supt. Marc Cochlin, chief executive officer of ALERT, expressed his appreciation for the funding, stating that it “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”.
Mark Neufeld, chief constable of the Calgary Police Service, added that, “The collaborative approach will help to increase efforts on the identification, prioritization, investigation, and enforcement of those bringing violence into our communities”.
Jyoti Gondek, Mayor of the City of Calgary, acknowledged, “The daily toll that gun violence and gang activity have on their communities and called these proactive initiatives an important part of a much larger challenge to address the root cause of violence in society”.
Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of Alberta RCMP, stated that “Collaborating with the Calgary Police Service and other law enforcement agencies to confront these challenges head-on will help to continue protecting the safety and well-being of Albertans”.
ALERT, established in 2006, is the umbrella organization of integrated, province-wide response to serious and organized criminal activity that crosses local and regional boundaries. Since its inception, ALERT has made over 11,500 arrests, laid over 35,000 charges, seized more than 1,700 illegal firearms, and approximately $970 million in drugs. Budget 2023 aims to secure Alberta’s future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping communities safe, and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education, and continued diversification.