Red Deer joins provincial anti-crime unit

  • Aug. 22, 2012 3:58 p.m.

Red Deer is finally becoming part of Alberta’s ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team). City council voted Monday to partner in the establishment of a regional Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to fight organized crime in Central Alberta.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling welcomed the City becoming part of the program. “We know Red Deer, because it’s in the Edmonton – Calgary corridor, is targeted by organized crime and is targeted by the illicit drug trade. We know we need to be on top of that and this will give us a leg up for the whole region.”

Council approved joining the unit as part of its mid-year budget review. The City will contribute half the cost, up to $150,000, for providing office space for the 15-person unit. Three Red Deer RCMP officers will join the unit to start and the City will provide three more, one a year, over the next three years. The province will fund the other nine positions. Council was unanimous in supporting the move.

Councillor Tara Veer said, “Our City is a central location for organized crime and this is an issue we need to address.” Councillor Paul Harris added, “As the only city in Alberta without ALERT, we need to be part of the team.”

RCMP Supt. Warren Dosko said the unit, “Will focus on the most serious crimes and have the biggest impact on our community, (although) it’s not just a drug unit. … This is a huge step forward.”

He noted that many minor as well as major crimes are involved with drugs and organized crime: car thefts, break-ins and other crimes are often committed by people looking for quick money for drugs. Red Deer’s central location between Edmonton and Calgary also is handy for organized crime that, up until now, faced ALERT units in those cities, as well as Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray.

ALERT was incorporated in 2006 as a non-profit corporation to bring together the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources to tackle serious and organized crime. Most of the funding is provided by the province, with additional funding by the Canadian government. ALERT recently took part in a major provincial drug bust. Calgary has 76 people in its ALERT unit while Edmonton has 72.

The philosophy is that the most urgent crimes, usually involving drugs or other organized crime activities, go beyond municipal boundaries and that approaches to this must be borderless and use municipal, provincial and federal resources. Police forces need to pool their resources to provide the best and most cost effective response possible.