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Alberta creating new provincial gang suppression unit, firearms unit


Alberta is creating two new police units in an effort to combat organized crime and gun violence throughout the province.

The UCP announced the creation of the gang suppression unit and firearms investigative unit on Wednesday, both of which will operate under the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).

The creation of the units will be funded by $4.4 million from the province's 2023 budget.

"This approach brings together the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources to combat organized and serious crime," said Mike Ellis, minister of public safety and emergency services, said in a news release.

"Calgarians deserve to feel safe in their own community, and we also know that these criminals will stretch this kind of violence beyond those municipal borders."

Ellis says the gang unit will work to identify and suppress organized crime and firearm violence, support work being done by the firearms investigative unit, and identify "individuals at risk of being victims or perpetrators of gun violence."

Both units will work with the Calgary Police Service, RCMP, Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta and the firearms lab.

Alberta RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki says the new units will enhance the collective efforts from law enforcement agencies as they work to address gang and gun violence in Calgary and rural Alberta.

"These new dedicated enforcement teams will provide a mix of covert and overt resources towards ensuring a fulsome and complete approach to making our community safe," said Supt. Marc Cochlin, chief executive officer at ALERT.

Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) (John Hanson/CTV News Edmonton)In 2022, Calgary recorded 126 shootings, an increase of 30 per cent over the previous year, and 26 homicides.

Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld says gun violence has been the service's top priority for the past several years.

"With this funding, we can continue to work with our partners to ensure we are targeting all aspects of gun violence, including the presence of unlawful firearms, organized crime and offender management," he said.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, meanwhile, says proactive initiatives are an important part of stopping gun violence.

"Our police officers, grassroots organizations and Calgarians know the daily toll gun violence and gang activity have on our communities," she said.

"Together with the provincial government, we'll continue to work in partnership to create safe and empowered communities." Top Stories

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