Efforts by outlaw motorcycle gangs to expand in the Halifax area have prompted an RCMP request for more front-line officers.
RCMP Insp. Robert Doyle said it’s clear the gangs “want to get a foothold here” after the Hells Angels lost their Maritimes beachhead when police smashed their Halifax chapter in 2001.
“We want to ensure that they do not,” Doyle said in an interview Tuesday.
Doyle requested the funding Monday at a meeting of the city’s Police Board of Commissioners, calling the bikers’ Nova Scotia growth “prolific.”
“A number of years ago, through the efforts of policing, they were shut down in the area. What’s happen here in recent years is that they’ve slowly come back into the area to the point now where they’ve got clubhouses set up here.”
In 2016, an Angels puppet club threw a high-profile “welcome home” event in Musquodoboit Harbour.
“Between Musquodoboit Harbour and Fall River, there is a significant presence of the Gate Keepers, Sedition, Bacchus and the Hells Angels, each intent on growing their presence in the area.”
The RCMP is requesting six new constable positions to be stationed in areas such as Tantallon, Cole Harbour, and Lower Sackville.
Last November, two Hells Angels members from Nova Scotia and Ontario were charged following a search of the gang’s clubhouse in Musquodoboit Harbour, which turned up drugs, firearms and cash.
The arrests came roughly two weeks after several members of the Gatekeepers Outlaw Motorcycle Gang in Halifax were charged with uttering threats and criminal harassment.
The RCMP’s request cites a number of other reasons more officers are needed, including the upcoming legalization of cannabis, and an increase in mental health calls and cybercrime investigations.
WATCH: Hells Angels back in Nova Scotia
The region’s residential and commercial growth over the last decade means there are new areas for crime to occur, Doyle added.
He said there are also concerns about officers who are working overtime hours to fill the staffing gaps.
“That’s taking members away from their days off and bringing them back into work. While that can be sustainable in the short term, it does cause us concern over the long term,” said Doyle. “It has an effect on their physical, mental and emotional well-being.”
The request said the last time new constable positions were created in RCMP Halifax District – rural and suburban areas not patrolled by Halifax Regional Police – was in 2009.
The new hires would cost the municipality $877,890 annually, the report said.
Police board member Waye Mason, the municipality’s deputy mayor, said Tuesday a staff report on the request has been ordered.
Doyle said if the request is eventually approved by the board, it would then have to be approved by the province’s Justice Department and then by Public Safety Canada.