Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

"It's war on city crime dens"-- The other side of the Alberta Boom

It's war on city crime dens
Houses of drugs and prostitution to be targeted in new enforcement program
Thu, December 6, 2007

Edmonton's top drug-house-busting cop welcomes the province's plan to crack down on crime dens.

Sgt. Maurice Brodeur sees the initiative working hand in hand with the program he runs, the Edmonton Police Service's Report A Drug House program.

"Too long, these little disorder houses ... have caused a lot of grief in neighbourhoods," Brodeur told Sun Media.

"When the police are responding to priority calls, we just don't have the time to deal with those addresses because they're not a priority.

"Nobody's being stabbed, no wife is being beaten up, there's no robbery. You know, all those things that need attention right now."

The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, which passed yesterday, is expected to come into force in the fall of 2008.

It will create a new unit within the provincial solicitor general's department that will investigate complaints of drug dens, as well as gang and prostitution houses.

Any criminal activities uncovered will be forwarded to cops for further investigation.

"The public has spoken, this is what they want," said Brodeur, adding he's currently sifting through 500 tips of drug houses in the city.

"These things have been allowed to fester for too long."

But not everyone is a fan of the legislation.

Local prostitute Carol-Lynn Strachan said she fears a crackdown on sex dens will force prostitutes to ply their trade on the street.

"If they're going to go after massage parlours, they'd better be careful because they're going to have a mass exodus all over the street," she said. "They'll create a large problem."

Strachan said prostitutes are not safe on the street because there's a serial killer preying on sex-trade workers.

"The safety of women should be addressed before they jump on board with BS like this."

Provincial officials said similar legislation was enacted in Manitoba six years ago, and since then has helped shut down more than 150 drug, gang and prostitution dens.

"This tough, new legislation supports community efforts to target and shut down derelict properties used as drug houses or to commit other criminal activities that endanger our children and families," Solicitor General Fred Lindsay said in a release.

Trevor Gemmell, spokesman for Alberta Solicitor General and Public Security, said during the first year of the program, two teams of 10 investigators will be set up - one in Edmonton and the other in Calgary. They'll be designated as peace officers, he said.

Each unit will have a director who'll sift through complaints from the public. In matters deemed non-criminal, the director will be able to issue a warning letter, forward the matter to mediation or go to the courts to apply for a community safety order, Gemmell said.


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