Pubdate: Tue, 15 May 2007
Source: Daily Herald-Tribune, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Daily Herald-Tribune
Author: Tamas Virag


Grande Prairie RCMP are hoping that the public will be the newest
member in their drug-house-busting team that so far includes health
and fire inspectors and local police.

"The Report-a-Drug House Program is a new initiative that we just came
up with, with assistance from the Edmonton city police," Grande
Prairie RCMP Const. Tony Walker said at the program's official launch
Monday, adding the similar program in Edmonton has been enjoying great

That successful track record may be duplicated here as well, as even
before the program's official launch, RCMP busted a "bona fide drug
house," where the recovery of weapons, prescription drugs and crack
cocaine resulted in the arrest of one man.

Walker said police are going to use unconventional methods, such as
using bylaws to keep the heat on suspected drug houses, something they
have not done in the past.

"We'll go there and if we see something ... if they haven't shovelled
their walk, we'll call enforcement services and let them know that,"
Walker said. "Anything we can do to disrupt their lives, we're going
to do."

At the heart of the program is the RCMP's plea for neighbours to keep
an eye out for suspicious activity.

"Some of the things that you're looking for when you suspect your
neighbour might be doing something such as this -- selling drugs out
of the house -- (are) visitors at all hours of the night, staying for
short amount of time, secrecy, in the sense that nobody really knows
what they do for a living, they don't talk about themselves," Walker
said. "You'll notice garbage piling up in the residence, strange odours."

RCMP are not yet extending the program to rural areas, Walker said,
but within the city nothing is off-limits, and they are not singling
out certain neighbourhoods.

"We see (drug houses) popping up everywhere, even affluent
neighbourhoods. I'm not saying there's a lot, but I'm saying there is
some and we're getting complaints about it. We will investigate it.
Some of the complaints will be unfounded, but if they're not we'll
have a member there to look after the problem."

Walker said the response from the public has been positive and police
have 10 current investigations as part of the program.

The public can contact the drug house program by calling 830-7444 or
Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Police will ask for a few details, such as where the house is, what
the general characteristics of the buyers are, where they approach the
house from, and what the busy time for visits to the house is, among
others. If police feel there is enough evidence, they will send out a
member to investigate. All calls are confidential.

The launch of the Report-A-Drug Program kicked off Crime Prevention
Week, which includes tonight's South Patterson Neighbourhood
Conversation Cafe and Wednesday's meth lab training sessions for
front-line workers.
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