‘It takes a community’: Lethbridge takes action against drug crimes

‘It takes a community’: Lethbridge takes action against drug crimes
Lethbridge police say drug crimes are on the rise, with three drug houses being shut down in the city over the last year. Now police are looking at new ways to help solve the problem, and that includes new initiatives and asking for help from the community. Demi Knight reports.

In 2019, three drug houses have been shut down in Lethbridge – a number Lethbridge police say is the highest the city’s ever seen.

“We’ve seen an increase, not only this year, but in the last few years with drug-related crimes in Lethbridge,” said Insp. Jason Walper, with the criminal investigation division at the Lethbridge Police Service.

READ MORE: Alberta Sheriffs shut down drug house in Lethbridge

The closures have taken place thanks to a collaborative effort made by LPS, the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) Unit based out of Calgary, and a dedicated group of local citizens.

“We’ve noticed that our community is engaged and they want to help make the community safer,” Walper said.

“We do receive a lot of drug-related occurrences coming through to our complaints line and our officers diligently try to get to those as much as we can.”

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Community members help Lethbridge police bust drug house
Community members help Lethbridge police bust drug house

One initiative in particular has caught the attention of law enforcement in the city.

Mallory Kristjanson, a spokesperson for Connecting our Community Lethbridge, an organization made up solely of concerned citizens, said the group works closely with police and SCAN to report any suspicious or drug-related activity.

And she’s hoping more people will follow their lead.

“It takes a community and that includes police officers, that includes SCAN and that includes municipal leadership to actually hear residents’ voices,” she said.

“But, it also takes us, as residents, to stand up against the crime that’s happening.”

READ MORE: Lethbridge police officials push for Crime Suppression Team

Both Kristjanson and Walper hope to see more resources available in the city to help combat drug-related crimes.

Some of those involve a SCAN unit being brought to Lethbridge and a drug court.

“I know another solution that we’ve been looking at is a dedicated drug court here in Lethbridge, which would be used for certain offenders that meet certain criteria,” Walper said.

“Those offenders can then go through the drug court and not only deal with the charges before them but also help deal with the addiction to drugs.”

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Walper said a new initiative will also be hitting Lethbridge streets next week.

The crime suppression team will be made up of experienced officers specializing in minimizing drug- and property-related crime in the city.