July 12th, 2024

New SCAN unit to be based in Lethbridge

By Lethbridge Herald on November 15, 2023.

Mike Ellis, minister of public safety and emergency services, alongside mayor Blaine Hyggen and LPS deputy chief Gerald Grobmeier, makes an announcement Wednesday at the police station regarding a new SCAN unit to be based out of Lethbridge. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

SCAN is setting up shop in Lethbridge.

The Alberta government announced Wednesday the Alberta Sheriffs has created six positions for a Safer Communities And Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit to be based out of Lethbridge. 

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis said the province is committed to improving public safety in southern Alberta to make sure residents don’t feel unsafe in their own homes. 

“Today we are taking action in providing law enforcement agencies the necessary tools to combat criminal activity. This includes using all means at our disposal to fight crime, which is why the Safer Communities And Neighbourhoods unit is such a valuable asset,” said Ellis. 

He said the SCAN unit is able to hold home owners accountable for illegal activity taking place on their properties. 

“The SCAN units have already proven to be a valuable tool to address crime in southern Alberta. Between 2019 and 2023, the SCAN unit in Calgary investigated 360 properties in Lethbridge, which is about 20 per cent of its caseload during that period,” said Ellis. 

He said that due to a significant increase in complaints from Medicine Hat and other southern Alberta communities which emphasize the need to increase law enforcement in the region, the new SCAN unit based out of Lethbridge was created. 

“This is a new regional team that will cover an area roughly bounded by Vulcan to the north, the Crowsnest Pass to the west, the U.S. border to the south and the provincial boundary with Saskatchewan to the east,” said Ellis. 

Deputy chief of Alberta Sheriffs, Greg Medley, said the work SCAN units do to keep Albertans safe is time-consuming and sometimes complex. 

He said some investigations result in Community Safety Orders, which allow SCAN to take legal action against homeowners. 

He said out of the 360 properties mentioned by Ellis, nine resulted in Community Safety Orders here between 2019 and 2023. 

“Taking legal action against someone’s property and imposing conditions on their use and occupancy is serious business and doing so, quite rightly, requires Alberta Sheriffs to gather sufficient evidence to convince the court it is absolutely necessary,” said Medley. 

He said gathering sufficient evidence takes time and in the past, travelling time for a SCAN unit to come from Calgary was added to it. Therefore having a unit here will help reduce investigation time by eliminating travel time. 

Medley said the success of SCAN units is the result of a strong relationship they have established with local law enforcement. In turn both parties benefit. 

“Evidence gathered by local police can play an important role in SCAN investigations and police in turn can often use evidence gathered by SCAN investigators to bolster criminal investigations and laid criminal charges,” said Medley. 

Mayor Blaine Hyggen said when he ran for mayor, community safety was his top priority and Wednesday’s announcement was a gigantic step forward to follow up on that. 

“Having a SCAN unit dedicated to southern Alberta will be absolutely a game changer – quicker response times, much higher investigative intelligence and make no mistake, drug houses and drug dealers are not welcome in Lethbridge,” said Hyggen. 

He said SCAN frees up valuable police resources and allows the Lethbridge Police Service to focus on the people involved. Together they are a powerful team and most importantly, SCAN empowers citizens to make their community a safer place to live due to this being a complaint driven process. 

LPS deputy chief Gerald Grobmeier said having a SCAN unit here will be very helpful because those types of investigations take time and resources LPS simple does not have. He said SCAN also has expertise and powers that LPS doesn’t and therefore the unit will help LPS in various ways. 

“By them taking over some of those houses from us, and allowing our investigators to move on to different matters and perhaps dealing with the more mid- to higher level drug dealers, we can start working on trying to prevent the drugs from actually coming into Lethbridge as opposed to dealing with them once they are already in Lethbridge,” said Grobmeier. 

He said in turn that trickles down throughout the organization and allows front-line officers to spend more time having a police presence on the streets. 

“We hear very often in Lethbridge is that ultimately people want to see police officers on the street, which we are trying to provide them. So this adds those resources to allow us to be more present in the community,” said Grobmeier. 

Anyone with concerns about illegal or suspicious properties can find information or file a complain by visiting alberta.ca/report-suspicious-property or by calling 1-866-960-7226.

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