Shutting down drug houses with SCAN
It’s been another busy and successful week for the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) sheriffs working in Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams – (ALERT).
This week, the SCAN team won a court order to close a property in Alberta Avenue that had become a haven for drug addicts and prostitutes. The Edmonton home generated more than 107 calls for police assistance and was also the scene of a drive-by shooting.
“Having a drug house in the community creates significant issues for families,” said SCAN north manager Insp. Chip Sawchuk. “We will continue to work closely with police services to shut down these houses and make communities safer.”
Made up of Alberta sheriffs, SCAN is an ALERT team established and funded by the Government of Alberta to bring together the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources to tackle serious and organized crime.
“Property crime rates in the areas surrounding drug houses are typically much higher than in other areas,” said sheriff investigator Christian Michaelis. “This particular house was near a school, and drug deals would be taking place when children were nearby.”
The property has been boarded up for 90 days under the provincial Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act. SCAN investigators use this legislation to target problem homes used for illegal purposes such as prostitution, gang activity, and drug use and trafficking.
Drug runners and drug dens are monitored by SCAN unit members, who are trained in covert surveillance. Often, when it’s renters causing the problem, landlords are relieved to get some help. If asked, sheriffs will help evict problem people and provide resources to ensure reliable renters move in.
The SCAN unit has been so successful that police agencies throughout Alberta rely on them to help address drug houses and improve community safety. In Alberta, police services do not have the authority to close down problem properties. They can go after the people selling drugs, but they can’t do anything about the property—so new people could set up shop in the same house and the same customers will continue to drop by.
Since the beginning of April 2013, SCAN has:
• received 350 complaints about problem properties
• conducted investigations in 24 different urban and rural communities
• formally resolved seven complaints using Community Safety Orders
Albertans who suspect illegal activity is occurring at a property in their neighbourhood can contact SCAN online at www.alert-ab.ca/scan or toll-free at 1-866-960-SCAN (7226). All complaints are confidential. Residents are reminded never to investigate suspected problem properties on their own.