Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jul 2009
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 Osprey Media
Author: Roland Cilliers, Staff Writer


Local RCMP plan to shift their focus from its drug unit in favour of a
larger gang enforcement unit.

Karolina Malik of the Fort McMurray RCMP told Today local law
enforcement will be making several changes to better respond to crime.

"We need to make sure that we stay up to date with different things
that are happening in the community, and given different situations
that have occurred over the years we need to make sure that we evolve
and make sure that our policing is effective - and also in the way we
investigate things," said Malik.

More details about the planned changes weren't available at press time
as the RCMP isn't officially releasing the information at this time.

"There aew a few changes that will be happening but in order for
things to be approved we need to bring things forward to the
municipality and there will be changes that need to be happening, but
they need to be approved first," said Malik.

As it exists now the Fort McMurray drug unit consists of eight members
who undertake operations involving drug trafficking in the community.

Municipal councillors say if the RCMP feel this is the best way to
fight city crime, then they support the move.

Coun. John Vyboh said this approach is reflective of other police
forces across the country.

"Throughout Canada, police forces are looking for more effective ways
to deal with the issue of illegal drugs," said Vyboh. "So I think all
of the communities are finding that they're seeing more and more of an
organized criminal element. So to me it's just a case (taking) a
course that suits your situation, and I think this is a prevalent situation."

Vyboh said based on the changing structure of many criminal ventures,
it makes sense that police will be looking at making adaptations as

"Fort McMurray has always been on the edge of whether we are going to
have a type of gang-related element in the city. And over the years
with the increase we've seen in terms of the population that brings
with it, to a certain extent, certain elements who see an opportunity
for a market," said Vyboh.

Coun. Sharon Clarkson said anything that addresses crime is a good

"Often there is a correlation between drugs and gangs. So I think the
RCMP, in their wisdom, if they think this is the best way to address
the problem and anything that we can do to make the streets safer, to
make the community safer and to make it more family-friendly,
absolutely I support," said Clarkson. 
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