A six-member Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit has been operating since Nov. 6.
The specialized sheriffs work in tandem with the Lethbridge Police Service to investigate and shut down illegal activity at problem properties.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis said the SCAN unit in Calgary has been successful in dealing with illegal drug activity over the past four years.
“Between 2019 and 2023, the SCAN unit in Calgary investigated 363 properties in Lethbridge, which is about 20 per cent of its case load during that period,” Ellis said.
“In addition, there has been a significant increase in complaints from Medicine Hat and other Southern Alberta communities, emphasizing the need for increased law enforcement efforts in the region.”
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Along with covering Lethbridge, the unit will also monitor the area from Vulcan to the Crowsnest Pass, down to the U.S. border and east to the provincial boundary with Saskatchewan.
Lethbridge Mayor Blaine Hyggen said having a SCAN unit dedicated to the city is a gamechanger.
“Quicker response times, much higher investigative intelligence, and make no mistake, drug houses and drug dealers are not welcome in Lethbridge,” Hyggen said.
LPS deputy chief Gerald Grobmeie said the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is a powerful tool in dealing with these properties.
“The sanctions and court orders used by SCAN directly hold property owners accountable, stop illegal activity, remove criminals and prevent new ones from moving in is critical to community safety and security,” Grobmeie said.
Alberta’s SCAN unit has investigated more than 8,000 complaints since 2008.
A cost estimate for the local unit has not been made public.
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