By Trevor Busch
After identifying a suspected drug house in the community, the Taber Police Service was able to utilize provincial legislation to end criminal activity at that location.
The service’s actions were assisted by the province’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) legislation, which helps keep communities safe by dealing with problem properties that are being used for specific illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, prostitution, and child exploitation.
“We were able to successfully utilize SCAN legislation, the Safe Communities and Neighbourhoods legislation that exists within the province,” said Chief Graham Abela at the Taber Municipal Police Commission’s Nov. 20 meeting. “We had one apartment complex where we had undertaken two search warrants over a period of time, two separate residences within that same complex, and we felt that was in contravention of the SCAN Act. As a result we enacted — with the help of the commissioner within that legislation — and some warning letters were sent to the landlord. Since that time the landlord has evicted, and obtained writs of possession on the residence, and we now can say that we have a residence there that no longer has the criminal activity occurring in it, and as a result we’ve got a safer neighbourhood. So it was a good utilization of that legislation.”
The location or address of the property in question was not identified in Abela’s report to the commission. Coun. Joe Strojwas, who serves as one of two town council representatives to the commission, inquired if the former tenants had simply moved on to another location in the community to continue their criminal activity.
“They’re in hotels currently in town,” replied Abela. “It’s interesting. They’re not in residences. I’m hoping that some of our landlords get recommendations from previous landlords before they rent to the same individuals. It’s always best as a landlord to get those.”
Chair Ken Holst suggested this information should be tracked to allow landlords to avoid renting properties to habitual or career criminals.
“Is there some sort of landlord sharing of this type of information that goes on at all that you’re aware of? We almost need a hub of some sort that deals with that sort of thing.”
Strojwas interjected it was simply easier for landlords to obtain a criminal record check regarding potential tenants.
“If you want you can circumvent that. The best method is to spend the $50 — or ask them — to do a police check. That would be the best way to go.”
Abela pointed out that individuals involved in these kinds of activities can often be drug addicts themselves in need of treatment, but under the proper circumstances police need to serve as the “hammer.”
“Displacement is one thing. It’s not the best. Obviously you’re trying to curb an issue and you want people to get help, there has to be three things they have to try to do, whether its prevention, proactivity, or education. But sometimes you have to be the hammer, and in this case, that legislation enabled us to be able to do that. Hopefully their ways get changed, but if not, we’ll be there.”