The Calgary Police Service is committed to stopping the violence and preventing the criminal activities of gangs. We have developed The Organized Crime Operations Centre (OCOC) to coordinate the extensive resources required to tackle the gang problem head-on.
By exchanging intelligence, techniques and proven strategies with other North American cities that have successfully addressed gang crime and violence, the Calgary Police Service has introduced a comprehensive plan to suppress gang activity.
The Calgary Police Service's four-point gang strategy
To effectively respond to gang violence, our community and the media need to understand and develop an awareness of issues related to gangs. We’ve introduced a multi-level education campaign aimed at raising community and media awareness.
We use the following tactics to raise awareness about gang violence:
- We host open-house presentations throughout the city where citizens can come to learn more, raise concerns and get answers to questions.
- We offer personalized presentations to interested schools or community groups.
- We’ve introduced a public awareness program and advertising campaign aimed at vulnerable youth.
- We work closely with mainstream newspapers, television and radio stations as well as community newsletters to make sure the public gets the most current, correct information.
- We regularly share information and statistics on arrests, charges and seizures in gang-related press releases.
- We host workshops to help give members of the media and stakeholders a better understanding of how gangs work, and what the police are doing about the problem.
The best way to fight a problem is to try to stop it before it begins.
That’s why the Calgary Police Service works closely with youth who are associating with gangs and those at risk of being recruited. In addition, we work directly with the community to ensure that Calgarians can be involved in creating solutions to gang problems. There are three ways we work to prevent gang involvement:
- Connecting with the community. This includes the Gang Helpline (403-206-8191) where citizens can call in tips or concerns. The Diversity Resources Unit can also provide service in a number of languages, and has a close understanding of the various cultural communities they represent.
- Working with youth. Several long-standing programs aimed at youth have been ideal vehicles for preventative work on gangs, including the YARD program and our School Resource Officers.
- Monitoring known offenders. Our Organized Crime Operations Centre monitors and follows the activities of known gang members. Furthermore, our Court Monitor makes recommendations to the Crown Prosecutor.
For more information on steps you can take to prevent youth from joining gangs, or letting gangs establish themselves within your community, visit Calgary Youthlink.
Disrupting a gang’s activities and hindering their efforts to make money is an effective prevention tool. Suppression and disruption strategies include the following:
- Directed patrols: Frontline officers disrupt gang activities through activities such as focused patrols, vehicle stops and field interviews. Directed patrols help gather intelligence on gang members and can be particularly effective when an officer encounters a gang member who is in violation of court-imposed conditions.
- Saturation patrols: Multiple police units attend pre-selected gang hotspots when intelligence reveals that an illegal activity may be planned. Their visible presence deters this activity and discourages gang member presence.
- Special prosecutions: Specially trained prosecutors are in place to handle gang cases. These prosecutors work to keep gang members in custody while awaiting trial, which prevents them from committing violent crimes while out on bail.
- Work with stakeholder agencies: The Public Safety Task Force is a multi-agency initiative that includes the Calgary Police Service, Fire, By-law, and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. Task Force members work together to promote public safety by ensuring safety codes is maintained.
- Court monitor: The Court Monitor helps disrupt gang activity by assisting Crown Prosecutors working on gang-related cases.
Because gangs engage in such a wide variety of criminal activity - and because they operate throughout the entire city (not on a specific "turf") - the Calgary Police Service has set up a centrally coordinated unit to focus specifically on gangs and gang activity. The Organized Crime Operations Center (OCOC) is an initiative that coordinates, focuses, and manages all investigations related to gangs.
From the moment the Calgary Police Service is notified of a gang-related incident, the OCOC is involved. The OCOC ensures the appropriate resources are allocated to the investigation through the following strategies:
- Working with external partners such as the Municipal Police Services throughout Canada, the RCMP, Calgary Transit, Provincial Corrections, the Correctional Service of Canada and the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada and its provincial member agencies. As necessary, the Service also works with international contacts, including Interpol, the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
- Joint forces initiatives, which are teams that have been assembled to share intelligence and work collaboratively on gang cases. These include the Integrated Response to Organized Crime (IROC), Integrated Drug Teams, the Southern Alberta Marijuana Investigative Team (SAMIT) and the Calgary Criminal Intelligence Unit (CCIU). All of these teams are staffed by both Calgary Police Service and RCMP members.